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Sunday, 26 October 2008

One wedding and an apology

A priest who blessed a same-sex couple of his colleagues seems to have buckled under pressure and has now apologised.

The Rev. Dr Martin Dudley perpetrated this evil deed at St Bartholomew the Great in London, a church that was featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral (see our first post on this, “One wedding and a fundamentalist or two”.

One of the frothing African bishops had a go at this at the time.

Now Dudley has put his tail between his legs, apologised and said he won’t do it again, according to a story in Pink News.

Give him his due: he has at least warned that the rules of his employers are being “widely [. . .] disregarded”. And, if you’re in a job that restricts your “blessings” to heterosexual couples, you either obey or lose your job.

Should he have told his bishop where to stick his crosier, thrown down his dog collar and flounced out?

Read the statement he made, and judge for yourself:

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 discreetly, 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Nonetheless, I am willing to abide by its content in the future, until such time as it is rescinded or amended, and I undertake not to provide any form of blessing for same sex couples registering civil partnerships.

You get the impression that he doesn’t regret the act itself, just the alleged embarrassment it’s brought on his church.

What is it about church people and homophobia? While the ten-yearly Lambeth Conference was arguing the toss this summer, Neil Richardson, himself an ordained priest in the Church of England, was formulating his own thoughts, which he shares with us in the October issue of G&LH.

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