The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York have condemned the recent partnership ceremony of two bishops held over the weekend.
A joint statement released this afternoon reads:
“We have heard the reports of the recent service in St Bartholomew the Great with very great concern.
“We cannot comment on the specific circumstances because they are the subject of an investigation launched by the Bishop of London.
“On the general issue, however, the various reference points for the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality (1987 Synod motion, 1991 Bishops’ Statement- Issues in Human Sexuality- , Lambeth motion 1:10, House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships) are well known and remain current.
“Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”
One of the gay priests who caused controversy over the weekend for marrying his partner, also a member of the clergy in what was in effect the first gay marriage in a British church has resigned. The Bishop of London is to investigate the incident.
Rev Dr David Lord an Anglican priest based in New Zealand said it “felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy license” last night.
The Reverend Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows in what is legally a “blessing ceremony” at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London in May.
A civil partnership ceremony can not by its very nature can not take place in a religious institution although it is legally permissible for a blessing ceremony to take place in one. Indeed, the Liberal Judaism movement has offered services within Synagogues for some time.
In this instance a full Church of England ceremony has taken place although technically gay clergy may only “marry” if they provide reassurance that they will abstain from sex.
The Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, said such services are not authorised in the Church of England. He has asked the archdeacon of London to investigate.