The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry) answered questions in the House of Commons yesterday, including this one on Same-sex Marriage (Priests).
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What the Church of England’s policy is on priests entering a same-sex marriage; and what guidance has been given on what would happen to a priest who did so.
Sir Tony Baldry: Clergy and ordinands remain free to enter into civil partnerships. The House of Bishops in its pastoral guidance distributed on 15 February said that it was not willing for those in same-sex marriages to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry—deacon, clergy or bishops—and that
“it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives”.
As with any alleged instance of misconduct, each case would have to be considered individually by the local diocesan bishop.
Mr Bradshaw: In light of the recent Pilling report, does the right hon. Gentleman believe it would be sensible if a hard-working, popular priest got married with the full support of his or her parish and congregation and was then disciplined, sacked or defrocked?
Sir Tony Baldry: The situation is clear. The Church of England’s understanding of marriage remains unchanged: marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, and under the canons of the Church of England marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. The canons of the Church of England retain their legal status as part of the law of England and I would hope that no priest who has taken an oath of canonical obedience would wish to challenge canon law and the law of England.
In an exchange on Twitter yesterday, Peter Ould asked “Who gives Tony Baldry MP the steer on what to say in response to questions in the Commons?” and churchstate (the Church of England Parliamentary team) answered “Process in a nutshell: we make suggestions after consulting senior colleagues & specialists. He then decides what to say.”