LONDON — An Anglican church has held a homosexual "wedding" for the first time in a move that will deepen the rift between liberals and traditionalists. A "wedding"-like ceremony between two male priests broke the Church of England's rules, a spokesman for the Anglican body said Saturday.
The two clergymen exchanged rings and vows last month at a ceremony in St. Bartholomew the Great in London, according to The Sunday Telegraph, a preview of which was made available Saturday. The paper said the ceremony included traditional marriage liturgy, hymns and a Eucharist. The ceremony involved the couple, the Rev Peter Cowell, who is a cleric at one of the Queen's churches, and the Rev Dr David Lord. The two had registered their civil partnership before the ceremony.
The ceremony took place in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place. It is likely to embolden liberal clergy who have been reluctant to offer a full "wedding service" and will open the floodgates to other homosexuals who want a traditional ceremony.
The Rev Martin Dudley conducted the ceremony and said "I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I see nothing wrong with blessing a couple who want to make a life-long commitment to one another."
Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson said the service described by the paper violated church guidelines "in just about every respect."
Although civil partnerships between homosexual couples are officially recognized in Britain, the Church of England maintains that marriage should be between a man and a woman and its guidelines ask clergy not to bless such partnerships.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/, June15, 2008