Monday, June 23, 2008

The Church of England starts at home

The faithful in London should not allow foreign Anglican bishops to dictate how they should treat gay clergy and their civil partnerships

by Richard Haggis
From Times Online
June 20, 2008

Last weekend the news broke that a City of London priest had celebrated in his church a service of blessing for two gay clergymen who had previously entered a civil partnership.

Dr Martin Dudley, the officiating priest, has since been roundly condemned by both archbishops and more ominously, by the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres. There is nothing more the archbishops can do, but Chartres could revoke Dudley’s licence to preach and celebrate the sacraments in the diocese. He might even be able to depose him from his living — the secure tenure he enjoys at his church until he is 70 years old. The question would be, on what grounds?

The answer might take one of two directions. The only grounds for deposing an Anglican parish priest are bad behaviour, and wrong belief. Dudley could be accused of disobedience. He promised to obey his bishop (as parish priests are required to) “in all things lawful and honest”. The bishop colludes with the general Church of England rejection of blessings for gay relationships, but it might be asked whether this attitude is either “lawful or honest”. As is well known, the Diocese of London is awash with gay clergy, many of them appointed by Bishop Chartres, including some quite senior figures. When I was working in London, of the five parishes which abutted our own, three had gay incumbents (senior, tenured, priests), and all but one had gay curates. As did our own.

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