The Church of England Newspaper
It was a tale of two bishops at last week’s industrial tribunal hearing in Nottingham over the case of Jeremy Pemberton, a hospital chaplain who was refused a license because he entered into a same-sex marriage. Firstly, there was Bishop Richard Inwood, the acting diocesan bishop who didn’t really deserve to be hauled out of retirement to be subjected to forensic questioning in the tribunal. His equivocations over the harmfulness of same-sex marriage to the doctrine of the Church of England, revealed a half-hearted approach to defending his original decision.
An impression was given that he was merely following orders that led the tribunal judge to suggest that the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage was a ”˜busted flush’. The deafening silence from Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe hung over proceedings. In contrast, the Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, acting as an expert witness for Jeremy Pemberton, was characteristically and defiantly dismissive of the Church’s orthodox view that marriage is between a man and a woman as a “lousy definition” of matrimony.
Thankfully, clergy in his diocese are now calling for Bishop Wilson’s resignation and refusing his Episcopal ministry. About time, he has for too long been at odds with the Church of England’s teaching. But his decisive and courageous defence of Jeremy Pemberton and his willingness to speak his mind and court controversy, contrasts with the timidity of his colleagues who are supposed to be defending the Church of England’s doctrine. I suspect that this willingness to confront the indecisive handwringing of the Church of England may yet give Jeremy Pemberton a victory in his tribunal case. It is however, likely to be a short-lived victory ”“ the Church of England has protections and exemptions. Further, the courts of the land have no business adjudicating on the doctrine of the Church of England.