What to make of the apology of sorts by the Rev. Dr Martin Dudley about the creative service of blessing for a gay partnership he was given by a collague and partner and performed at St Bartholomew the Great on 31 May this year? That was the service in which the Book of Common Prayer wedding service was adapted into a near as could be wedding service for gay partners along with a Eucharist.
The service and its source and construction was three steps forward for the action of a gay relationship blessing: if it can be done, this is one 'traditional' way to do it. Unfortunately the Church of England, being rather contradicted between its own factions for and against, and the actuality of Civil Partnerships by the State, couldn't go along with this ceremony of togetherness.
Once the media reported it a sort of stink errupted, even though until the media reported it there was no comment.
Disciplinary action might have been expected - not against the media but against Rev. Martin Dudley. However, Open Evangelical Bishop Pete Broadbent has done his boss's duty and announced his boss's view that the matter is closed. After "frank discussions" with the Archdeacon of London, Rev. Dudley now thinks the service should not have happened and he won't do another; it was inconsistent with the House of Bishops' Pastoral Statement from 2005, and he should have given it far greater weight, even though he thinks this Pastoral Statement is subject to differing interpretations and he is profoundly uneasy with much of its content.
Bishop Broadbent keeps his own silence on whether there should have been disciplinary action, as he passes on another's view, but he does call it a "full and frank apology".
Is that what it is? The upshot of the explanatory letter has neutralised one Rector from doing it again, but that's all. The Rector gets in his complaint too. The Church of England must think this is another finger in the dyke, as they might say in Holland, stopping one man. Rather, a good marker was put down, however, a how to do it marker, for which the performer is to be made a small frozen out martyr, while everyone knows the direction of the flood.
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