I didn't go to church yesterday. I've been ticking about this permission to officiate thing over the last few days To be exact, I've been ticking about the bishop of Jarrow's refusal to grant me it. The reason it's been nagging me is that I get wound up about unjustness and it seems that the right of a bishop in the Church of England to refuse to allow priests to ply their trade (pursue their vocation for the romantics among you) is unfair, immoral, illogical and (here it is again) would be deemed illegal in the secular employment market.
I studied to become a priest, passed my exams and was ordained accordingly. I am a qualified priest. In this I am very similar to a doctor (of medicine), albeit that prospective doctors have to work a lot harder to get their licence to practice than I had to in getting mine. Like a doctor I can lose a specific job for reasonable run of the mill reasons. Both doctors and priests can be dragged before a professional body and, if proved guilty of gross, professional misconduct, can have their right to practice removed from them for a temporary period or for life. But, if doctors loses their jobs for any other reason than gross misconduct they can still practice. If they are offered work, permanent or as a locum, they can accept it and be paid for doing it no matter what health authority area they are living in. For priests it is a completely different ballgame. For them, even if they have not been subject of successful disciplinary action through the correct legal channels they can still be prevented from working on the whim of just one person, the diocesan bishop.
So you have this ridiculously daft situation where the Church of England will spend vast amounts of money pursuing disciplinary actions against a priest through the proper channels which is actually a complete waste of time as the local bishop can, for whatever reason takes his fancy, circumnavigate the proper channels completely and screw up the life of a priest without anybody being able to do anything about it. I ask you, what then is the point of having an official disciplinary system if the diocesan bishop can brazenly behave in such a despotic manner?
It's not as if a Church of England priest can apply for a job in a different denomination. The Church of England is a Church of England priest's only opportunity for gainful employment.
This is totally sick. It's so wrong that I lie awake at night crying about it.
You know, I am not a bit surprised that Giles Fraser and his establishment colleagues have done a complete u-turn over their welcome of the Occupy the City protesters. I can think of absolutely no other institution in England that acts so immorally in so many ways as the Church of England hierarchy so blithely does. Even the fascist, British National Party, have to follow the law of the land when it comes to employment and equality legislation.
Our bishops constantly whinge about having to have exemptions from legislation for what they regard as good reasons (such as the continued oppression of women and gay people) but then they show just how cynical they really are by using those exemptions to do the dirty on anybody they feel inclined to, including the disabled and anybody who openly disagrees with them about something. That these same people can read the gospel aloud in church on a Sunday morning, including all of Our Lord's references to pharisees and hypocrites, without obviously feeling in the slightest bit guilty about their own duplicitous behaviour, just proves to me that the members of the episcopal college regard themselves as completely exempt from the moral commandments and priorities of the founder of the religion they police with such world-conforming zeal.