Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 10 March 2021

Rachel Treweek ViaMedia.News International Women’s Day – Choose to Challenge

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Charity Commission and its power to intervene in religious charities

Paul Thomas All Things Lawful And Honest A Nuptial Mess

Neal Michell The Living Church Against Non-Apologies

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Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Perhaps it’s the difference between the US and the UK, and the concept of an established church, but to this American mind, the idea that there are only certain places where it is both secularly and liturgically legal to perform a wedding is just unfathomable. I have attended or heard of weddings in this country (including some performed by Episcopal priests) that were celebrated in catering halls, backyards, public parks and beaches, as well as, of course, churches, synagogues and mosques.All that is required in the US, generally, is a marriage license issued by the appropriate secular agency (usually the… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

Do we really have any good idea about the truthfulness of an Oprah interview segment? Seriously. Charges of racism without naming names. I suppose one can have a view of weddings American and weddings elsewhere, but I find it hard to know whether any of this is true to begin with, absent better evidence set before the public. We really do not know what happened in this case, factually speaking.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
1 month ago
Reply to  C R SEITZ

Had the interview been with, shall we say, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, conducted by John Humphrys, would you have the same doubts as to its veracity? Or is it only because it was on American TV, hosted by an American interviewer, asking questions of these two people that you question the truthfulness?

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

Why would you assume in the context of so much rancor and recrimination–charges of racism were made–that this is something like a camera shot on ‘what really happened’? As noted below, the obvious point about the wedding comment–otherwise irrelevant–was to say, ‘we did our own thing, just as we are doing now.’ Put the ABC in an awkward light, gratuitously. She said he married them privately. Do you believe that? Do I think the gazillionnaire Oprah is more concerned with truth than ratings, as against a BBC interview under the glare of lights? Sorry. No. But that is hardly the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by C R SEITZ
Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
1 month ago
Reply to  C R SEITZ

My iniital comment was not intended to suggest the American way of weddings was better, just different and hence an American reader would be surprised by the controversy over this issue. And the BBC isn’t worried about audience size? Then why is it so widely reported? (As a fan of Doctor Who, I recall the reports every series about declining audience.) No single interview is ever “a camera shot on what really happened” (as a former journalist–covering a relatively unimportant field–I can certainly verify that). But neither should it be assumed that the interview subjects are handing the interviewer a… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
1 month ago
Reply to  C R SEITZ

Currently in the UK many well established institutions are struggling to combat well founded allegations of institutionalised racist behaviour. Very little of it is overt, much of it is unconscious behaviour by otherwise well-meaning people. Nevertheless the behaviour exists and has a damaging effect on so many people. The Police service, the National Health Service, the Press, the Church of England, and (stop press, today’s news) the Governing body of UK cricket. All are having problems with what seem like well founded complaints. In a country where the leaders of all of these bodies are taken from the same social/educational… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

As you will notice, my comments are focused on the wedding remarks. There is no camera shot to confirm what she has said about the private ABC wedding. Charges of racism are serious. I gather they are being followed up on. Do I take what the Oprah show has said as truthful? No. I await a proper investigation.

T Pott
T Pott
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

One reason is that the evidence produced is so weak. Meghan appeared to concur in Oprah’s suggestion that the reason Archie is not a prince is due to racism. Was she really unaware that it is due to his position in the family? Even Prince Edward’s son, who technically can claim the title prince at age 18 if he wishes, is actually known as Viscount Severn. Princess Anne’s son is Mr Phillips.The Queen’s nephew and niece are not prince and princess. Meghan didn’t know this? Oprah didn’t research it before making her suggestion? Then there is Oprah’s shocked incredulity that… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

Pat, I think John Humphrys would have asked the Duchess of Sussex about the relationships with her own family and not confined it to her in laws. I think he would have asked the Duke of Sussex about dressing up in Nazi uniform in his younger days and explored how survivors of the Holocaust might have felt about that.

Jill Armstead
Jill Armstead
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

John Humphrys would have conducted an interview. Oprah conducted a counselling session masquerading as an interview.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

We have had this discussion before and it is extremely discourteous to hold out your own practice and tradition in your country as the only one and the right one for the Church in another country, namely, in this case, the Church of England. Civil marriage ceremonies in the UK can take place in any number of different locations, not merely register offices as formerly, and, of course, they include synagogues, other places of worship and Quaker meeting houses, just to name examples, as well as premises which have been licensed for civil weddings, including hotels. But the participants in… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

It’s not just about being an established church. Secular venues also have to be licensed for weddings, and that isn’t automatic. You also have to be a registrar to conduct a wedding, and (in theory at least) you need to be trained to be a registrar – marriage law is quirkinesses complicated. Church of England clergy are automatically registrars, but our training ranges from patchy to nonexistent. However, I agree that I can see nothing blameworthy in Harry and Meghan wanting some quiet prayers with the Archbishop, or even with their regarding that as the ‘real’ wedding. I know English… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

“However, I agree that I can see nothing blameworthy in Harry and Meghan wanting some quiet prayers with the Archbishop, or even with their regarding that as the ‘real’ wedding.”

She didn’t say that. She said they were married by the ABC three days before the actual (massively expensive) public exchanging of vows. “Just the three of us.”

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago
Reply to  C R SEITZ

Legally of course the prayers with the Archbishop in the garden weren’t a marriage. But I know couples, including one that I alluded to above, who considered the vows said before a minister to be the ‘real’ wedding, rather than the vows said before the registrar.

Meghan’s remark was technically incorrect, but I can understand that the more intimate occasion might feel more ‘real’ to her the pomp of that state ceremony.

Susannah Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

“I know couples… who considered the vows said before a minister to be the ‘real’ wedding, rather than the vows said before the registrar.” Absolutely so Janet. Karina and I got (technically) married by a registrar in Glencoe (Scotland allows ceremonies indoors, outdoors, etc) before our public wedding. Legally that was our technical marriage – the required piece of paper. We had to get that because the Church of England discriminates against lesbian couples and have ensured that our marriages aren’t legally valid in C of E churches. But after that, the ceremony where we made our vows before God,… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Not to take too much time on this, but I am a bit puzzled by the solicitous concern for the couple in question. Surely the point of the interview was to major in estrangement, accusation, even recrimination. Why throw in anything about a Lambeth wedding? Obviously, to say “the royal wedding was gratuitous. The actual wedding took place in private. We could have just flown away, but we indulged the general public and the royal family with a second-finisher event.” This is both mean and raises questions about the actual role of the presider, suggesting that he did the real… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat ONeill

When I was a curate at St Stephen’s Gloucester Rd in the 80’s I got a call from a lawyer at a conference at a hotal near by saying he had a marriage licence from the State Legislature of Alabama which he felt enabled him to be married anywhere in the world and could I oblige. The Diocesan registry suggested he marry in the US embassy and then I could do a blessing. However the conference was too short to arrange anything.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
peterpi -- Peter Gross
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

I don’t know if I would trust that lawyer in matters marital. S/he should have known that outside the USA, a marriage license from a clerk and recorder (not the state legislature) in Alabama depends entirely on any appropriate treaties between the USA and another country, and some countries could regard it as invalid for the purposes of that country’s laws. For example, prior to the US Supreme Court ruling that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, many same-sex couples got married in Canada, knowing or finding out that, in numerous states, their license wasn’t legally worth the paper… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Charity Commission and its power to intervene in religious charities: Re: Trusteeship at Christ Church Oxford “Even at a distance it is possible to discern that there exist breaches of several of the seven principles of good charity trusteeship. I hardly need to repeat all the ways that personal animosities seem to have started to interfere with the trustees’ work. Animosity and the process of governance have become entangled.  Another of the principles of good governance is that trustees should be well informed. The censors at the heart of the dispute with the Dean have done little to assist this… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard W. Symonds
Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

The “wedding”: Mornington Crescent, please?

David Lamming
David Lamming
1 month ago

Agreed, Stanley – nicely put! Save that for a theological reflection on the issue of when Harry and Meghan were ‘married’, this blog by Adrian Hilton on 9 March “Harry and Meghan were indeed married before their wedding ‘spectacle’” provides food for thought:
Archbishop Cranmer.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lamming

That can, surely, only mean possibly a common law marriage without enforceable rights (but, query, does the archbishop’s presence have any bearing?). Does anyone, apart from the couple, know what vows were actually exchanged? They were under no illusion that they were to be married in the Church of England and had been prepared for that in the usual way, I believe by the Dean of Windsor. As Richard succinctly states below, the ‘spectacle’ was the legal marriage.

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

The other problem of giving a couple the impression that a private ceremony was a marriage is that they probably consummated what they thought was a wedding. That makes them unrepentant sinners who have had sex out of marriage and the Archbishop of Canterbury should, in terms of doctrine, have refused to complete the public ceremony.
 
But that’s irrelevant, as are all the other objections. Pastorally Justin did the right thing. That is what should matter most. I would like to see him exercise such discretion more often.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
peterpi -- Peter Gross
1 month ago

I thought Rev. Thomas’ column was well-written. I appreciate his desire not to reveal the names of the couple, so as to make it apply to everyone.
I don’t think the UK recognizes “common-law marriage”, as some US states still do, and therefore, there are rules and procedures to follow regardless of whether the couple is a local farmhand and a shop clerk, or a relatively famous actress and the grandson of The Queen.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

We certainly have common law marriages in the UK (remember that England was and is the cradle of the common law!) but you are correct to the extent that common law spouses do not have the same legal rights here as married ones. Of course there are now other more recent legally-recognised forms of co-habitation. Those who choose the traditional common law path (recognised as a valid tradition by the great jurist, Lord Denning, although himself married and a pillar of the Church as well as of the law) can fill the legal gaps by entering into enforceable co-habitation and… Read more »

Neil Patterson
Neil Patterson
1 month ago

With respect, the comment above is complete nonsense. Common law marriage” is a myth of no legal status.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Neil Patterson

I quote, as a convenient source, from the House of Commons Library: “No legal status for common law marriage “Although cohabitants do have some legal protection in several areas, cohabitation gives no general legal status to a couple, unlike marriage and civil partnership from which many legal rights and responsibilities flow. Many people are unaware that there is no specific legal status for what is often referred to as a “common law marriage”. This is the case no matter how long the couple lived together and even if they had children together.” I didn’t intend a lengthy dissertation for Peter… Read more »

Neil Patterson
Neil Patterson
1 month ago

Your comment began “we certainly have common law marriages in the UK”. That is simply not the case. Some people live together. They are not married at all, nor correctly described as spouses, it is a very misleading expression which leads many people, especially the more vulnerable party (typically but not necessarily the female in an opposite-sex couple) to believe they have some rights and security which they do not have.

Jo B
Jo B
1 month ago

Common law, though, no longer recognises such couples as married, so it’s a misleading misnomer. If “common law marriage” actually existed the courts would recognise it as marriage with all the responsibilities that entails. They do not.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Jo B

Agreed, the relevant words being “no longer”. If he has read this exchange (also with Neil Patterson) Peter Gross will understand that ‘common law marriage’ is a term which has been popularly used in the UK (and probably originated in England) for unmarried cohabitation. From what he says, it seems that in some US states the concept is recognised and has legal rights. I made the point clearly in my original reply to him that in England the shortfall is accomplished by the parties entering into binding agreements which are on offer on every family solicitor’s website. I hope he… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

The marriage took place in St. George’s chapel when the register was signed by the officiant and by the witnesses. The backyard ceremony was a sweet little event to be cherished by the couple. Had the opulent wedding not taken place, there would be no valid marriage.

Susannah Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

It might have been valid in God’s eyes.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

I offer this without further personal comment. The happy couple were prepared for Christian marriage in the Church of England by the Dean of Windsor who speaks here before the event.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMJfiXMjHlk

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