Lambeth Palace letter suggests ‘indistinguishable’ blessing after same-sex marriage

Mar 3, 2017 by

by Madeleine Davies, Church Times:

A LETTER from Lambeth Palace has said that a church service after a same-sex marriage can be “almost indistinguishable from a wedding”.

The letter was written to Dr Richard and Matthew Edwards, who married last year in Birmingham Register Office. Both are members of the PCC at St Paul’s, Birmingham. Dr Edwards is the treasurer, and Matthew Edwards the vice-chair and a churchwarden. They have been together for five years, and got engaged in 2015. Before they married, they wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury for guidance.

The letter they received in response, written by the Archbishop’s correspondence secretary, Andrew Nunn, demonstrates the Church of England’s ambivalence on the question of same-sex marriage. He states: “marriage in an Anglican church is not an option for you.” On the other hand, he describes the practice of having a blessing in church after a civil ceremony. “The church ceremony can be arranged so as to be almost indistinguishable from a wedding, but without the legalities.”

A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said on Wednesday: “The correspondence secretary was intending to refer to marriages and blessings which take place in denominations other than the Church of England.”

Mr Nunn writes that Archbishop Welby had been “shaken” by the reaction in the House of Lords to the Bishops’ opposition to the same-sex marriage legislation. Same-sex marriage had “become something of a shibboleth for those opposed to homosexuality more generally. . .”

He continues: “I am really sorry that you cannot have the church wedding that you want so much. However you get around the issue, I very much hope that your wedding is a happy and joyful occasion, and that your lives together are everything and more that you dream of.”

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