Gay priest banned from taking services says he has found huge support
An out gay Church of England priest who has been banned from taking ceremonies has said he has received much support.
Jeremy Davies married his partner of nearly three decades, opera singer Simon McEnery, after retiring as a canon precentor at Salisbury cathedral.
The pair had entered a civil partnership after 28 years together, and later decided to marry in 2014.
Davies has since been refused “permission to officiate” by the Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin.
Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, Davies said: “I think [Dakin] is behind the curve… But it’s a legitimate curve to be on. The church is on the move, but it takes a long time.
“This is very frustrating to many people, but the issue of sexuality in human relationships has been on the church’s agenda for 2,000 years.”
Gay clergy members in the Church of England are allowed to enter civil partnerships, but are still banned from marrying.
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A spokesperson for the diocese of Winchester told the Guardian: “Canon Jeremy Davies made an application earlier this year for permission to officiate (PTO) in the diocese of Winchester. Due to the Church of England’s position on same sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful.”
One follower wrote on Davies’ public Facebook page: “I am so deeply saddened about the decision of Winchester. You have been my inspiration for preaching since I was 9 years old. I don’t think there is anyone better in the CoE at present. In the meantime, many, many congratulations to you and to Simon.”
Another wrote: “Utterly disgraceful. And the C of E wonders why people don’t go to church any more! These pathetic, small-minded people need to get out into the real world.”
Canon Jeremy Pemberton was the first member of the Church of England clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner last year, defying a same-sex marriage ban set down the House of Bishops.
He later had his permission to officiate revoked by a Bishop, which meant he was prevented from continuing to work as an NHS hospital chaplain as he was declined the correct licences. This week an Employment Tribunal ruled the Church’s actions did not constitute discrimination.
The ruling came despite the fact other gay clergy have married without the same punitive action – with married gay vicar Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain even getting elected to the Church’s main governing body, after defying the exact same rules as Canon Pemberton.