Bishop of Norwich clarifies purpose of monitoring and reference group

As Changing Attitude reported in a blog on June 26, on June 24 the Church of England website posted a statement about weekend press reports that the Bishop of Norwich has been asked to keep a blacklist of clergy who marry same sex partners. The statement said the reports were untrue.

Changing Attitude had been aware for some months of rumours that the Bishop of Norwich had been asked to perform some kind of role in response to any lesbian or gay clergy who might marry following the introduction of equal marriage. One rumour suggested that his role was to prevent any married lesbian or gay clergy from securing a future appointment in the Church of England.

The Bishops of Manchester and Willesden posted comments which added to the confusion, so CA wrote to Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, awaiting me. Bishop Graham is the lead bishop in the monitoring and reference group which also includes the bishops of Sheffield and Willesden. In his reply he wrote:

“It was a surprise to read that I was apparently keeping a blacklist of clergy who had entered same sex marriages or was charged with acting against them. Such assertions are a very long way from the truth.

“What I have agreed to do at the request of the Archbishops is to be available to other diocesan bishops for consultation as and when they have to decide what to do if clergy in their dioceses marry a same sex partner. There may well be courses of action or ways of responding which they have not considered, and I hope the reference group will ensure cases are not dealt with erratically.

“I am not charged with taking any initiative, nor would I do so (it is up to diocesan bishops to contact me) but I hope that in this matter, as in all things, there is still the possibility for some pastoral wisdom.”


  1. Toby Forward says

    I’m pleased, and not at all surprised to hear this version of what is planned.
    I can only think that Graham James will do much to prevent other bishops from acting in an ill-considered and unsympathetic way to those concerned.

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