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The Church of England has “a lousy definition” of marriage, according to one bishop.
The Bishop of Buckingham, Dr. Alan Wilson, made his declaration during a tribunal for another colleague, Pink News reports. Wilson was testifying at the case of Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who was prevented from further promotion after marrying his husband last year.
The House of Bishops had previously banned its gay clergy from marrying, putting Pemberton’s nuptials in direct violation of the Church’s ruling. His right to officiate was repealed, while another job opportunity was denied after the Church failed to provide the correct licenses.
After another bishop, Richard Inwood, called Pemberton’s marriage “sinful and unwholesome,” Wilson countered that the Church’s teachings on marriage stem from a variety of sources. The phrase “one man and one woman,” he said, was derived from a ruling in 1938 intended to restrict divorcees from marrying again, not to prevent same-sex couples from marrying (something already illegal in British law at the time).
Wilson gave further examples of Church law and their varying degrees of acceptance. “For example, in Article 37, it says capital punishment is OK,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean it’s a requirement for every clergyman to agree with capital punishment.”
Asked about the Church’s doctrines on marriage, Wilson said that, “It’s not that I don’t think it’s true, or the canons of England should not be followed, all I say is it’s a lousy definition, if it cannot tell you who is and who is not married.”
He added that, “rather than shacking-up with his boyfriend,” it would be far more appropriate for a priest to marry “as a better reflection of God’s love.”
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