A report of a May 31 wedding between two gay priests using traditional liturgy has caused a furor within the Anglican Church, and one of the priests involved has resigned over it.
The Times reported: “Had it not been two men standing at the altar, any observer would have taken the service for a traditional wedding. The service – at the Church of St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London – began: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God . . . to join together these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity.”
David Lord and Peter Cowell were wed in a ceremony presided over by Rev Martin Dudley, who is under fire for taking the action. The Daily Mail reports: “The doctor fell in love with 50-year-old Rev Peter Cowell after he started working as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s hospital in London five years ago. Cambridge-educated Rev Cowell is the hospital chaplain at St Barts and a priest at Westminster Abbey, one of the Queen’s churches. The couple had registered their civil partnership before the blessing on May 30th.”
The Bishop of London, the Right Rev. Richard Chartres, immediately launched an investigation
Dudley said he had no regrets over performing the service: “I have made no secret about this. I have done something that was a very nice pastoral, godly occasion. … I certainly didn’t do it to defy anyone. I have done what I believe is right.” Added Dudley: “I was asked by a friend and colleague to bless their civil partnership. I said ‘of course I will’. Peter is a dear friend and I have gay friends and one respects them for who they are. It seemed perfectly reasonable. I certainly didn’t do it to defy my bishop or to make a statement, I did it as a matter of pastoral care for someone for whom I have a very high regard. I know about the Bishops guidelines and I disagree with them. It just seems to me to be utter hypocrisy to deny the fact that there are significant numbers of gay men and women within the church and significant numbers of gay clergy.”
Lord, a priest in New Zealand, has now resigned from the church, a move that will debar him from officiating as a priest, according to the Guardian, saying he “felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy license.”