Dean considers blessing gay couples in civil partnerships

The following article appeared in The Guardian on 16 February 2006.

Written by Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent. 

It can also be found through the University of Cambridges Library service iDiscover, courtesy of Factiva

Mr Caddick’s letter says although no requests have yet been made: “We would not wish to close the door to having services for members of the college community who requested them. In a community such as this one, people know there is considerable diversity in human sexual relationships and, in general, see the importance of affirming and celebrating those that are faithful and life affirming.”

The move may open the way for more colleges, schools and other institutions not directly under control of bishops to follow suit for current and former members. College chaplains do not require a licence from their bishop to conduct services in their own chapels, although they do if they move to another church.

The Church of England bishops in a statement last July acknowledged that clergy and parishioners could legally enter civil partnerships but insisted that it would not authorise any blessing service.

In his letter Mr Caddick says the bishops’ statement that “sexual intercourse as an expression of faithful intimacy properly belongs within marriage exclusively” flies in the face of pastoral experience: “To put it bluntly, what planet is the House of Bishops on? I cannot recall the last time I presided over the marriage of a couple who were not already sleeping together … in setting its face so publicly against gay relationships the church imperils, perhaps terminally, its standing to speak authoritatively on the subject of relationships generally.”

Canon Owen Spencer-Thomas, spokesman for the diocese of Ely, said: “There is a wide range of views in any community. Dialogue between Jeremy and the bishop will continue in a spirit of friendship.”