The marriage last May of the Bishop of Runnymede, Jonathan Kirkpatrick (49) to The Revd Tom Driburg (the first involving a bishop and his partner) has resulted in an employment tribunal hearing which may well change the CofE’s position on gay marriage among the clergy. Kirkpartick was dismissed as suffragan bishop by his superior, the Archbishop of Canterbury, citing the guidelines on gay marriage agreed by the House of Bishops.
Counsel for Bishop Kirkpatrick claimed that, on past evidence, there were no reasonable grounds for his client to assume that the church would act on these or any similar guidelines. ‘My client has been ignoring guidelines and getting away with it for years,’ claimed the lawyer.
‘First he was a Freemason, but they made him a bishop notwithstanding; then, after divorce, he remarried the wife of a fellow priest, but with no disciplinary consequences and some encouragement. Now he has divorced the woman in question and married a long-time friend, Mr Driburg. At least he has shown that, unlike the Archbishop, he does not discriminate on the grounds of sex.’
Sean Riley, QC, appearing on behalf of Kirkpatrick, asked the Archbishop: ‘Would you agree, on this evidence, that the Church’s discipline is a busted flush?’
‘Well, I wouldn’t quite put it like that myself… but I suppose…now you say so… and all things considered… I suppose…yes… well…perhaps…I would’.
The case continues…