by Daniel Blake
Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2008, 17:31 (BST)
Reports of a gay ‘wedding’ in the Church of England have angered conservative members and prompted an investigation by the Bishop of London.
A report in The Sunday Telegraph said that the Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows and rings in a wedding-like ceremony at St Bartholomew the Great Church in the City of London last month.
The ceremony, held on May 31, violates official Church guidelines, which maintain that marriage is between a man and a woman and ask that clergy do not bless homosexual partnerships.
A spokesman for the Church of England told AFP, “What we seem to have here is a fairly serious breach of the rules by an individual or groups of individuals.”
The Rev Martin Dudley, who oversaw the ceremony, said he had no regrets and told the BBC that he had not broken instructions from the bishops.
"It wasn't a gay church wedding, it was the blessing of two people who have contracted a civil partnership,” he told the BBC.
"They wanted more than I was able to give - they wanted something more like a wedding. I was not willing to do that because I believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
"Therefore we had to negotiate the form of the service, the words that were used, so that I could say them with integrity, but they also found that they expressed their love for each other and their commitment to each other.
"But what we actually did was to celebrate in the context of holy communion, of a solemn celebration of the eucharist, their love for each other."
Conservative Anglicans have reacted with anger, including the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Orombi, who told The Sunday Telegraph, “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.”
According to the blog of Peter Ould, one of the founders of Anglican Mainstream conservative network, the liturgy used in the ceremony spoke of the “union of two people in heart, body and soil […] intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity”.
He wrote in his Sunday posting that “the explanation that this was only intented [sic] to be a ‘blessing’ is specious”.