Sham marriages

Updated

The English House of Bishops has issued new Guidance on the marriage of persons from outside the European Economic Area which can be downloaded from here.

This page links to two documents:

In addition, reference is made in the first document to:

Here is the official press release: Bishops act to tackle sham marriages

And some press reports:
Alan Travis in The Guardian: Sham marriages targeted in Church of England crackdown
Tom Whitehead in The Telegraph: New rules for migrant church weddings
BBC: Church of England in ‘sham marriage’ crackdown

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David ShepherdLaurence RobertsLeslie FletcherMark BennetLister Tonge Recent comment authors
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Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Now the bishops need to get down to caring for vicars caught up in this mess. Their neglect of their ministers is a disgrace. I am speaking of human suffering.

Good conscientious people almost by definition in inner city areas and let’s face it, not supported by their bishops as a generalisation.

Left to rot. And not supported by judicious well thought out press statements either.

Parish priests are being hung out to dry at this moment.

What in Christ’s name are they doing in Chelmsford diocese ?

David
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David

Is the Church becoming big brothers little helper?

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I had no idea one could refuse marriage to those who would not turn up to a preparation class! That would have difficulty holding up – even if the cleric in question escaped ecclesiastical discipline. A great deal to question here – and much of it – as can be seen, is bluster. Note the section dealing with those who insist on their lawful right to be married by Banns (if they are so qualified). I see at least three further Church of England clerics have been arrested and may, like my mate Alex Brown, end up in jail, but… Read more »

David Shepherd
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David Shepherd

So there now £100 tax, sorry, ‘common (sic) licence’ for marriages between (or to) non-EU partners. Rather than a presumption of innocence and the normal level of scrutiny, the registrar will open and maintain a case file for each prospective spouse from outside the EEA. Copies of passports and documentary evidence proving parish residency will be kept. In the first-century, the Temple hierarchy decided that its tax could only be paid in Hebrew currency. It forced foreign worshippers to pay conversion charges to the avaricious moneychangers. These measures turn the Diocesan Registrar into a policing extension of the UKBA, impose… Read more »

Chip Chillington
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Chip Chillington

Peter,
Would you explain marriage by banns and by common license?

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

I can’t answer for the whole of Chelmsford Diocese, where I currently serve. However, last year we had five people who tried us out and went away, and I have married two genuine couples where one or both were non-european, and I have had exemplary assistance from the diocesan authorities and others from whom I have sought advice. I am not in inner city London. I think it is clergy who try to go-it-alone, and imagine they know best until they are caught out, who have problems. And when clergy fail to register marriages correctly or don’t make proper returns… Read more »

Marshall Scott
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We have occasional comments from politicians about marriages intended to bypass immigration regulations. However, because we don’t have establishment and related marriage regulations, most such marriages are civil marriages.

So, how big an issue, really, is this for the UK? And in the UK, how big an issues, really, is this for congregations of the Church of England?

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘Ithink it is clergy who try to go-it-alone, and imagine they know best until they are caught out, who have problems. And’ You do not sound very sympathetic, and neither do the Church authorities. People do not ‘try to go it alone’ and know they do not ‘know best’–but are abandoned to get on with it. (Many years ago I was left to burn out in a parish and two busy hospitals. I received little care from the official Church of England). I was, and am raising, the issue of the failure of care of ministers in Chelmsford diocese in… Read more »

Peter Owen
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Chip There is a summary of the different preliminaries to marriage here: http://www.peterboroughdiocesanregistry.co.uk/marriage.html and I am sure that you can find similar information elsewhere. In the present context I think that the important features of a marriage by common licence are 1) that the common licence requires one of the parties to swear an affidavit as to his/her identity and the identity of the partner and as to their freedom to marry, and 2) the common licence is issued by the bishop (or his deputy) so that it is not for the person conducting the marriage ceremony to decide whether… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

I think this is very necessary and the Church in Wales (who also have the privilege of marrying without the presence of a state registrar) should also institute the same safe guards.

Peter Owen
Guest

There is this undated document on the Church in Wales website.

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/asaph/life/resources/documents/ImmigrationandChurchinWalesMarriages.doc

There is also some brief advice at the end of this webpage.

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/life/marriage/faq.html

Fr Levi
Guest

The last, best defence against emigration fraud … the local vicar! Things are a bit better in the Republic of Ireland. Due to changes in the law a few years back, the legalities are handled by the government registrar; the priest can only solemnise the marriage if the couple presents themselves with the right paperwork in hand. Making it even easier in my diocese, our bishop is very keen that his priests understand their part in the process properly and provides both training and guidance:
http://www.cork.anglican.org/ministry/gminc.html

Andrew
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Andrew

Surely the best thing would be to require everybody to attend a registry office and to sign all legal documents and certificates in front of a secular registrar and to leave people free to then attend a church for a religious ceremony should they wish to. Many other countries do this, ministers of religion would not have to worry about falling foul of the law and then we may also see a way forward for people who have entered Civil Partnerships to also have their union blessed in churches.

Lister Tonge
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Lister Tonge

There seem to be very different stories coming out of Chelmsford about the circumstances surrounding the accused clergy. So I don’t want to comment on that. But what strikes me from Laurence R’s posts is the need for a thread about pastoral care of clergy. Is this website the place, I wonder, since most comments are in response to news stories? The notions of clergy ‘left to rot’ and ‘out of sight is out of mind’ are all-too-common as experiences. Bishops seem now to have washed their hands of any responsibility for clergy deployment and ‘market forces’ prevail (with hidden… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

It is very easy to point the finger at others in these debates, but the structures of the Church of England have evolved beyond recognition over the last few decades. Fewer stipendiary clergy are each in larger roles with greater expectations and therefore under more pressure than before – this includes Bishops and Archdeacons who have more to do than ever before, not least because the Diocesan administration of most Dioceses has been cut to the minimum. This leaves people, I would suggest, on the whole, needing more support, but getting less. The Clergy Discipline Measure has brought new challenges… Read more »

David Shepherd
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David Shepherd

In as much as our poor clergy are the main focus of sympathy in recent posts, is there an iota of compassion towards the desperate ‘strangers’ within our borders? In spite of the political priority of church collaboration in ridding our country of all non-EU people except genuine asylum seekers, much of our scripture narrates the migration of a desperate ‘stateless’ people into a new land with hostile inhabitants, called Canaan. However ill-advised their efforts, it’s strange that the lingering ‘Christian’ thoughts In this thread are with our mistreated clergy who lack proper pastoral care, rather than those languishing in… Read more »

Leslie Fletcher
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Leslie Fletcher

Last July my eldest son married Serra, a young woman from Turkey, in the UK. I was outraged by the demeaning process through which they had to go to obtain permission to marry and the implied suspicion of their intentions – “guilty until proven innocent”. I have suppressed beyond recall most of the details, though I do remember that, at one stage in the process, a whole collection of forms &c. was returned because one of the photographs they submitted was 1mm too wide. None of Serra’s relatives was able to attend the wedding because none was granted the UK… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘those languishing in immigration removal centres (aka prisons) awaiting deportation to an uncertain future.’ David Sheppherd

Yes, thank you David. You are right. A vital matter. Absolutley heart rending.

Prevented from working and ineligible for state benefits, many go hungry…

Here in Newham, food is distributed in Sebert Road centre E7 to families and indiviudals who are desperate.

Who live in fear and threat of starvation

in the capital city of England, UK

in the year of our Lord 2011

and it was no different under the last Government

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Hi Laurence,
I’m happy to discuss involvement in your Newham initiative on- or off-line.

Today’s worrying mediation was ‘in as much as you did not do it to the least of these my brethren’. A bit bored of my Christ-less consumption patterns.