Some clergy seek sanctuary from weddings


It won’t be news to you, but many clergy are irritated about being pressured to do weddings for couples who want a church wedding, but have little or no further interest in church. The Sacramento Bee looks at the issue in light of the same-sex marriage developments in California. The recommendations of Bishop Andrus come in for special examination.

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The difference between marriage customs in English-speaking and European countries comes from their different histories.

England kept the earlier pattern when Europe came under the influence of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Code.

Before the French Revolution in Europe and in Muslim-ruled countries questions of personal status including marriage and probate of wills were handled in church courts. That pattern continues in the Middle East.

In British America as in England many people married after notice to the congregation (Banns). In England licenses to marry without Banns were issued by the bishops or their deputies. In the colonies where there was no bishop resident the royal ecclesiastical prerogative assigned the right to issue marriage licenses to the royal governors.

Clergy and some others were authorized to solemnize marriages. Where the Church of England was established, e.g., Virginia, the parish minister received a fee regardless of who solemnized the marriage.

At Independence the states took on the authority of the royal governors.

While I can appreciate the desire to be fair to all while conforming to the Prayer Book rubric, "Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God," it seems passing strange to have Episcopal bishops endorsing the practices of the French Revolution.

Tom Rightmyer, Asheville, NC

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