UK: First gay clergy to marry ‘fired’ by Bishop

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The first gay clergy to marry in the UK has had his permission to operate revoked by a Bishop.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, 58, a hospital chaplain, was the first member of the clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner Laurence Cunnington in April.

His marriage defied a decision by the House of Bishops, which has banned gay clergy from marrying, but no immediate public action was taken.

Today it has emerged that the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood, has removed Pemberton’s Permission to Officiate (PTO), revoking his permission to perform services in the diocese.

Pemberton holds his licence in the Diocese of Lincoln – which has not yet revoked it – and he is still employed by the NHS as a chaplain.

Though he declined to comment on the matter, Pemberton has since confirmed that reports are “basically accurate”.

Reverend Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes said Inwood took the decision following the instructions of the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

He added: “The Bishop’s action against Jeremy is intolerable. Jeremy and Laurence have married because they love each other and are totally committed to each other.

“Jeremy has a vocation to the priesthood and a particular vocation to hospital chaplaincy.

“The Church examined Jeremy and recognized his vocation. Now that Jeremy identifies as gay and is in same-sex relationship which has been legally formalized, the Church reneges on its original evaluation of Jeremy’s vocation and demands that he resign.”

“The action taken by the bishop and archbishop has implications for the place of the Church of England in English society and for the teaching of the Church about marriage, intimacy and same-sex relationships.

Simon Sarmiento, of Inclusive Church, said: “If the bishops continue to take disciplinary action against clergy getting married they must expect a backlash.”

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