Sunday, June 15, 2008

Abomination: C of E Priests 'Marry'

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
The Telegraph

An Anglican church has held a homosexual "wedding" for the first time in a move that will deepen the rift between liberals and traditionalists, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

Two male priests exchanged vows and rings in a ceremony that was conducted using one of the church's most traditional wedding rites – a decision seen as blasphemous by conservatives.

The ceremony broke Church of England guidelines and was carried out last month in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place. News of the "wedding" emerged days before a crucial summit of the Anglican Church's conservative bishops and archbishops, who are threatening to split the worldwide Church over the issue of homosexual clergy.

Although some liberal clergy have carried out "blessing ceremonies" for homosexual couples in the past, this is the first time a vicar has performed a "wedding ceremony", using a traditional marriage liturgy, with readings, hymns and a ­Eucharist.

Both the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican communion expressed shock last night.

The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was "blasphemous." He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to "disintegrate". Archbishop Orombi added: "What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us.

"The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching."

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester – a powerful conservative figure – said that the service represented a wedding "in all but name". He said: "Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modelled on the marriage service and the occasion is modelled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts Church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion."

The bishop said that it was up to the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, to act, adding that it would become a high-profile test case of Church authority.

"Can we stand for the clear teaching of the Church of England or are we powerless in the face of these actions, which I regret enormously have taken place," he said.

The service was held at St Bartholomew the Great in London – one of England's oldest churches, which featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral – and was conducted by the parish rector, the Rev Martin Dudley.

The couple, the Rev Peter Cowell, who is a cleric at one of the Queen's churches, and the Rev Dr David Lord, had registered their civil partnership before the ceremony.

Mr Dudley opened the service by saying: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity. Such a covenant shows us the mystery of the union between God and God's people and between Christ and the Church." In the vows, Mr Cowell and Dr Lord pledged to "hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part".

Mr Dudley blessed the union with the words: "As David and Jonathan's souls were knit together, so these men may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made."

Leading church figures expressed astonishment at the language and grandeur of the service, claiming that it was a highly provocative act. Although, the use of such a traditional ceremony does not constitute a marriage in the eyes of the law, Church figures on all sides said the event went further than any gay blessing ceremonies that had gone before.

The "marriage" will revive the war over homosexual clergy that has engulfed the Church since 2003 when Gene Robinson was made Bishop of New Hampshire and Jeffrey John, another gay cleric, who was about to become Bishop of Reading, was made to step down.

It is likely to embolden liberal clergy who have been reluctant to offer a full "wedding service" and will open the floodgates to other homosexuals who want a traditional ceremony.

Mr Dudley agreed to conduct the service despite Bishop Chartres warning that Church guidelines – drawn up when the Civil Partnerships Act was introduced – do not allow formal blessings of gay relationships. He argued that it was not a wedding but a blessing and that he was not "offering" blessing services, but responding to personal requests from friends. "I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I see nothing wrong with blessing a couple who want to make a life-long commitment to one another."

A Church of England spokesman said: "Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances. But the House of Bishops affirmed that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership."


Albion Land said...

This comment was made by the man who officiated at this abomination:

As the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, who officiated at this service, I would like to add a little clarity to the story.

First, it was not a wedding or a marriage but the blessing of a civil partnership. Mr Wynne-Jones was well aware of this from his conversation with me today. If others construe it as a wedding, than they do so deliberately in order to ferment division.

Second, it was not and was intended to be a provocative act. It was not undertaken in defiance of the Bishop of London and there was no plea from him that I should not officiate at the service.

Third, we should remember that this service celebrated the love that the two persons involved have for each other. I officiated at it because Fr Peter Cowell has been my friend and colleague for many years. 300 people joined in the service; nearly 200 received communion, and there were dozens of other clergy present. It was not a rally or a demonstration. If other people want to turn into a loveless battlefield for the future of the Church of England, then it is they who will carry responsibility for the consequences.

Warwickensis said...

What absolute rubbish! I was going to use a stronger word, but one ought to try and keep one's composure.

How could this Rector of St Bartholomew not know that this would provoke a reaction? He is clearly either absolutely ignorant of reality (which, judging from the cloud-cuckoo bunkum they teach in C of E seminaries these days, is possible) or he is trying to cover up the elephant in the room with a postage stamp.

The complete disintegration of the Church of England is now very close. Watch the General Synod this July!

Anonymous said...

typical Anglican VIA MEDIA haziness!
How can he say it was NOT a wedding when they exchanged vows and rings? Also...they used the prayerbook wedding service!


poetreader said...

Of course it's intended to be a wedding, precisely equivalent to a real wedding. In claiming that they intend it to be anything other than that, they are simply lying through their teeth, deliberately and unashamedly.

As to drastic results next month, I'll believe it when I see it. "Mainline" Anglicans have been behaving like the frog in the pot. As the water heats gradually, they don't notice that they're boiling to death. The major damage to the structure of the church is already done with the wide acceptance of WO. Is there even as much chance in England as in the US of a congregation departing with its building and endowments? I doubt it -- in which case the status quo, even with bitter arguments, will continue to grind on as people individially melt away - just as it has been for some time now. Yes the CofE is dying, but with a whimper, not with a bang.


Fr. Steve said...

First Gene Robinson gets a civil union, and now this. Looks to me like the continuum is the only place to find real Anglicans anymore. How much of this are Anglicans/Episcopalians going to take before they come to their senses and realize they are not representative of Christian values? This is abominable.

Anonymous said...

well, it does certainly look like the Anglican Communion is finnished. Although that could have been said with the WO issue long ago. This is just another spiral down into the abyss. where to now: Rome or Orthodox? or...ACA/ACC/APCK?



Alice C. Linsley said...

Stand your ground as catholic Anglicans! Allow Almighty God to be your defense. Nothing hell spawns surprises Him, and Christ's victory is certain.

Canon Tallis said...


Of course theywere lying through their teeth and enjoying it. To blame, as the rector did, any consequences upon others is more than rubbish. I, too, can not write what i am actually thinking in this matter. \

The Bishop of London should depose the lot of them for breaking the directions of the Church. But given the strength of the homosexual bloc in London, will he dare? The truth is they expect us to be too nice to act, too nice to defend the Church and ourselves until they have ruined things beyond all but God's repairing.

Albion Land said...

The bishop of London should abandon communion with these apostates, and cease to tar himself with their brush.

Anonymous said...

It seems that there is NO Anglican Communion anymore. There are Anglican's in many different....should I say it...denominations now, but thats it.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I feel sick!


Anonymous said...

As I read the words used at the service [sic] I had to stop and take a breadth at the blasphemy that was taking place. It was difficult for me to read such brazen defiance of Gods ordinance and in His name, is there no limit these people will go to in order to achieve their political aims. The aping of the marriage service in this manner is an affront to Christians across denominations, as one commenter put it:

An orthodox friend of mind shared this anecdote with me: when two men were married in an Orthodox church in Western Russia, the priest was defrocked, his temple was bulldozed to the ground and the wreckage burnt.

Elijah said...

It seems that Zwingli has taken over more sacraments. There is a remembrance of marriage without the actual presence of a bride and groom. There is a remembrance of absolution without the real presence of repentance. There is a remembrance of ordination without the real presence of male apostolic successors. Lord have mercy.

Canon Tallis said...

"The bishop of London should abandon communion with these apostates, and cease to tar himself with their brush."

So says Albion Lamb, I would agree and so it would appear does the Bishop of London. He has written to the priest at St B's the Great telling him that while due process is beginning, he will at least give him the chance to come in and explain himself, especially as he told the media that he had been planning this service since November. I am sure that we are all waiting to see what will actually happen to the priest and how quickly.

Albion Land said...

Thank you, Canon Tallis, for agreeing with me, but please agree with ME, not someone else. My name is Land, not Lamb. :>)

Can you elaborate on what the Bishop of London has written; provide details of some sort?