Church of England claims bishop’s decision to block gay chaplain from NHS job was ‘autonomous’

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The Church of England has claimed the decision to block a married gay chaplain from taking up a job with the NHS was taken autonomously by a bishop.

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

However, he later had his permission to officiate revoked by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, meaning he was unable to take up a new job with the NHS in Nottinghamshire.

Last week, he confirmed that the NHS had since retracted the job offer, as a result of the Church’s action.

A spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council told the BBC: “The Church of England is made up of 42 dioceses.

“Each diocese is autonomous with the diocesan bishop overseeing and taking a lead in its ministry and mission.”

Reverend Colin Coward, of campaigning group Changing Attitude said: “This treatment of Jeremy is unhealthy and intolerable.

“The two different ways he has been treated by two diocese reflects a deep split in the council of bishops and if the church continues to ignore this it will provoke more anger, of which there is a huge amount already.”

Karen Fisher, of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Jeremy Pemberton’s offer of employment was subject to an approved licence from the Church of England and authorisation from the interim Bishop of Nottingham and Southwell.

“This licence was not granted and regrettably the trust has withdrawn the offer of employment.”

Campaigner Peter Tatchell recently threatened to name out prominent bishops, if they discipline members of the clergy who have entered into same-sex marriages.

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