Thursday, 23 October 2008

that London church service redux

The Diocese of London website carries this Statement on the Service at St Bartholomew the Great signed by Bishop Pete Broadbent. (Hat Tip to Ruth Gledhill who has published a fuller version of Martin Dudley’s letter on her blog under the heading Dudley pulls it off! and also wrote about it under a more sedate headline on The Times website as Vicar who performed ‘wedding’ ceremony for two gay clergy expresses regret.)

The Assistant Bishop of London has issued the following statement regarding the service that took place at St Bartholomew the Great on 31 May.

Dear Colleagues,

I am contacting you all on Bishop Richard’s behalf since, as you know, he is currently away on holiday.

Earlier this year, the Bishop wrote to you regarding a service held at St Bartholomew the Great on May 31st, which had generated considerable publicity and consternation.

Since this time, under the Bishop’s instructions, the Archdeacon of London has carried out an investigation into the matter, alongside the Chancellor of the Diocese. This has involved a series of frank discussions with the Rector, Revd Dr Martin Dudley.

As a consequence, the Rector has made expressly clear his regret over what happened at St Bartholomew the Great and accepted the service should not have taken place. Bishop Richard has considered the matter and has decided to accept the Rector’s apology in full. The matter is therefore now closed.

To avoid any uncertainty over what has been said, I have enclosed below, with the Rector’s permission, his statement of apology to the Bishop:

“I can now appreciate that the service held at St Bartholomew the Great on 31 May 2008 was inconsistent with the terms of the Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops issued in 2005. Whilst the precise status of this pastoral document within the Church of England generally and the Diocese of London in particular may be a matter of differing interpretations, I ought to have afforded it far greater weight. I regret the embarrassment caused to you by this event and by its subsequent portrayal in the media. I now recognise that I should not have responded positively to the request for this service, even though it was made by another incumbent of your Diocese, who is a colleague, neighbour and friend of us both nor should I have adopted uncritically the Order of Service prepared by him and his partner. I had not appreciated that the event would have been attended by so many nor that it would have attracted the publicity and notoriety which it did.

“I share your abhorrence of homophobia in all its forms. I am profoundly uneasy with much of the content of the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement which anecdotal evidence suggests is being widely, though discretely, disregarded in this Diocese and elsewhere. Nonetheless, I am willing to abide by its content in the future, until such time as it is rescinded or amended, and I undertake not to provide any form of blessing for same sex couples registering civil partnerships.”

As I say, following the Rector’s full and frank apology, the Bishop considers the matter now closed.

With best wishes and prayers

Pete Broadbent
Assistant Bishop of London

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 6:39pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

"Rule the Closet! The Closet rules The Church!"

IMHO, moral authority on this issue had moved to Los Angeles (See Dio LA PDF here: http://s3.amazonaws.com/dfc_attachments/public/documents/104/Some_Questions_and_Answers.pdf )

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 7:17pm BST

Now what's that quote from the Bible about a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own diocese?

Posted by: andrew holden on Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 7:33pm BST

As a wise bishop once told me, and which was repeated by other bishops since then, better not to ask and apologize later.

Posted by: revLois Keen on Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 9:03pm BST

Revda. Lois, I've heard that advice as: "It's always easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission."

Posted by: Padre Mickey on Friday, 24 October 2008 at 12:02am BST

"However, these sacraments are never withheld
because something basic to the very nature of the person has disqualified them, e.g., being a
man, a woman, a gay person, a white person, a black person.

"This being said, a gay person, who is not disqualified from baptism, should not be barred
from other sacraments because of his or her sexual orientation. We can argue, therefore,(that)
persons who are able to enter into a lifelong commitment as the church understands it
should be able to receive the sacrament of marriage in a same-sex union." - L.A. Task Force

This extract, from the Los Angeles 'Bishop's Task Force on Marriage' Document, provides, in a nutshell, what might be seen as a sound and basic theological argument for the marriage of same-sex persons who qualify (in respects other than their same-sex relationship) for consideration as prospective marriage partners.

The question as to the propriety of such a view of the sacrament of marriage is well answered in this document, and ought to be studied by clergy and others in the Church who would argue against the marriage of same-sex persons - on the basis of religious inhibition - on the grounds of not conforming to the male-female relationship model, which was previously 'de rigeur'.

What is pointed out in this Q. & A. document, is that the former expectation: that a prospective marriage couple should be capable of producing children of the relationship, no longer obtains - e.g., in the situation where a couple who are physically incapable of having a child, can still be married in the Church (However, recently in Italy, there was a case of a R.C. priest refusing to marry a couple, one of whom suffered from a disability which rendered them incapable of parenthood). In the Episcopal Church, at least, there is no such impediment.

What the Church requires, is that the couple be capable of a loving relationship and commitment, one to the other, that fulfils the law of Christ

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 24 October 2008 at 6:06am BST

As a boring academic, I wish Martin Dudley could spell.

Posted by: John on Friday, 24 October 2008 at 8:27pm BST

Well, that's a really comprehensive apology - it makes it quite clear that:

The rules are stupid and cruel:
"I should not have responded positively to the request for this service, even though it was made by another incumbent of your Diocese, who is a colleague, neighbour and friend of us both"

The Bishops' guidance is (deliberately?) open to creative re-interpretation:
"the precise status of this pastoral document within the Church of England generally and the Diocese of London in particular may be a matter of differing interpretations"

No-one with (check all that apply) either a heart or brain pays any attention to the Bishops' guidance:
"I am profoundly uneasy with much of the content of the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement which anecdotal evidence suggests is being widely, though discretely, disregarded in this Diocese and elsewhere"

Personally, I think that this two-fingered apology is absolutely appropriate, but it should probably be catalogued within the same genre as Bp Broadbent's rationale for skipping the Lambeth conference. That genre is 'one song to the tune of another'...

Posted by: Ph on Friday, 24 October 2008 at 10:49pm BST

"As a boring academic, I wish Martin Dudley could spell."

Huh? I copied his portion of the letter and ran it through my spellcheck and the only words that got flagged were "recognise" and "neighbour," both of which are understandable since Fr. Dudley is a limey and I live in God's country, where we recognize our neighbors. What words did you think he misspelled? Maybe I have to adjust my spellcheck.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 25 October 2008 at 1:55am BST

Interesting that his letter has a typo and a spelling error -- deliberately?

Happily the net result remains a step forward rather than a setback for the cause of church recognition of gay couples, and Fr Dudley -- as good a master of weasel words as any of his superiors in the Churhc of England -- comes out of this with his integrity intact.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Saturday, 25 October 2008 at 6:49am BST

Martin Dudley lost an opportunity when Anglican Mainstream gave him the right of reply. His letter was a rambling one on Donatism.....he should have simply said to them ," why can''t you agree what the Bible maeans about divorce and then come back to me?"

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 25 October 2008 at 3:16pm BST

'Discretely' is a valid word - but mis-spelt in this context - though maybe not - perhaps there are little clumps of disregarding the Pastoral Statement within the diocese?

Posted by: robert marshall on Saturday, 25 October 2008 at 4:28pm BST

Robert Marshall is right - without the 'maybe not'.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 25 October 2008 at 8:14pm BST

"'Discretely' is a valid word - but mis-spelt in this context..."

Thanks - I did not know that.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 25 October 2008 at 8:44pm BST

"both of which are understandable since Fr. Dudley is a limey and I live in God's country, where we recognize our neighbors."

Whereas, BillyD, I live in a country where we don't trust people who leave the 'u' out of 'honour'. Sorry. Couldn't resist:-)

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 27 October 2008 at 2:59pm GMT
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