The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have expressed their deep concern that a maverick Anglican clergyman held a wedding-like service for two gay men.
A joint statement from Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu said liberal clerics are entitled to their views but they cannot disregard the teachings of the Church of England.
On May 31, the rector of St Bartholomew the Great in London, the Revd Martin Dudley, held the service for two homosexual men who are also fellow members of the clergy, Revd Peter Cowell and Revd David Lord.
The service closely followed a real marriage service, using words from the Prayer Book with an exchange of vows and rings, but has no legal status.
It was conducted without informing the Bishop of London who has since ordered a full investigation into the incident.
The rector at the centre of the storm, Dr Martin Dudley, remains bullish about his actions. Writing for the New Statesman website, he said refusing to bless the pair “would have been a negation of everything I believe”.
The Archbishops’ statement 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.”