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Associated Press – June 15, 2008
LONDON – The bishop of London said Sunday he would order an investigation into whether two gay priests exchanged rings and vows in a church ceremony, violating Anglican guidelines.
The priests walked down the aisle in a May 31 service at one of London’s oldest churches marked by a fanfare of trumpets and capped by a shower of confetti, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported.
The bishop, the Right Rev. Richard Chartres, said such services are not authorized in the Church of England. He said he would ask the archdeacon of London to investigate.
A call placed with the archdeacon was not immediately returned.
Britain officially recognizes civil partnerships but the Church of England’s guidelines say clergy should not bless such unions.
The wedding-like ceremony is likely to anger conservative members of the Anglican Communion, a loose-knit worldwide Christian grouping that includes the Episcopal Church in the U.S.
Conservatives are fiercely opposed to both same-sex partnerships and the ordaining of gay priests, and the issue threatens to tear the Anglicans apart. The archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, was quoted by the Telegraph as calling the ceremony “blasphemous.”
The ceremony took place at St. Bartholomew the Great, according to the report. The Rev. Peter Cowell and the Rev. David Lord exchanged rings, read each other poetry and took part in communion, the paper said.
While not technically a marriage, the ceremony’s liturgy, including the introductory “Dearly beloved,” closely matched the wording used for weddings.
Telephone and e-mail messages to St. Bartholomew the Great were not immediately returned Sunday.
The Sunday Times quoted the Rev. Martin Dudley, who presided over the service, as saying he had no regrets.
“‘Unrepentant’ would be the right word,” Dudley was quoted as saying. “I have made no secret about this. I have done something that was a very nice pastoral, godly occasion. … I certainly didn’t do it to defy anyone. I have done what I believe is right.”
Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson said the archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion’s spiritual leader, was unlikely to make any public comment about the controversy.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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