A rector faces the sack after becoming the first clergyman to conduct a gay ‘marriage’ in an Anglican church.
Reverend Martin Dudley flouted Church of England rules by blessing two homosexual priests in a service that used a traditional wedding liturgy in which the couple exchanged vows and rings.
Details of the ceremony provoked fury among many senior ministers and fuelled the row over gay clergy which already threatens to tear apart the worldwide Anglican church.
Last night Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev Richard Chartres, ordered an urgent inquiry into the ceremony, which was held in one of the capital’s oldest churches last month.
He said: ‘Services of public blessings for civil partnerships are not authorised in the Church of England or the Diocese of London.
‘I will be asking the Archdeacon of London to investigate what took place.’
If Rev Dudley is found to have broken church rules he faces potential disciplinary action ranging from a rebuke to dismissal.
Last night he insisted he had no regrets about the service, saying: ‘It seems to me that Jesus would have been sitting in the congregation.’
Read it all here.
Here is a round-up of other British press reports on the fall-out from the reports of a same sex marriage ceremony.
The Daily Telegraph offers this update, which discusses both the reaction of the Bishop of London and the reaction from those atrending Gafcon:
The Bishop of London has launched an investigation into the gay ‘wedding’.
In a statement, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres said: “Services of public blessings for civil partnerships are not authorised in the Church of England or the Diocese of London.
“I will be asking the Archdeacon of London to investigate what took place at the church of St Bartholomew the Great.”
. . .
But Dr Dudley, who describes himself as “robustly heterosexual,” told the Daily Telegraph he was unworried by the investigation: “I am not bothered about the ‘rules’ because they are only guidelines.
“This was a personal response to someone who is a friend. Peter and I have known each other for many years and given that this was two priests entering into a civil partnership there was a question of what kind of ceremony to hold.
“They wanted to go much further than I wanted but we worked on a text between us that was appropriate and expressed their sense of commitment. This was new territory because no one else has produced a text of this kind but I am quite clear this was not a marriage ceremony.”
. . .
The news of the first church ceremony for a homosexual couple means they are now more likely than ever to claim the Communion has been irreversibly split. Some traditionalists may even say they must formally sever links with the Archbishop of Canterbury and form a new “orthodox” church.
Canon Chris Sugden, one of the organizers of “Gafcon”, said: “The timing is presumably deliberate. The hopes that some have that this movement might be stopped in its tracks as a solution to the crisis will clearly not come about.”
The Reverend David Banting, chairman of the group Reform, said: “There are bound to be consequences. It is very difficult to exercise discipline in the Church of England because things have gone such a long way down this sort of track. But yes, I would expect there to be consequences,” he said.
What is there not to like in the service of blessing billed as the Church of England’s first gay ‘marriage’ between two clergy? All the links are on Thinking Anglicans. A commentator says there that he has been to many similar services over the past 30 years, and I also have understood it to be happening regularly. But Episcopal Cafe has the order of service. And it is the Prayer Book language used here that is particularly appealing and also, perhaps, provocative. If the liberal movement had from the start couched its reforms in the language of tradition rather than modernity, the ecclesiological landscape facing us now might indeed be very different. Everything, as they should have known from the start, is in the Word.
The Daily Echo has this reaction from the Rt. Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt , Bishop of Winchester:
Rt Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt was speaking after it was revealed that Reverend Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London.
He said: “Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but he marriage 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 then called on the Bichop of London to take action.
Rt Rev Scott-Joynt, one of the leading Anglican bishops, added: Can we stand for the clear teachng of the Church of England or are we powerless in the face of of these actions, which I regret enormously have taken place.”
Read it all here.