I prefer to make no comment

Jan Mickiewicz has pointed me to the following article from Christian Today, which I will repost without further comment:

Leading CofE bishop Jonathan Baker to remarry after divorce
by Ruth Gledhill

bishop-jonathan-bakerA leading traditionalist bishop in the Church of England is to remarry after divorce having been given permission by the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The issue of marriage after divorce dominated the recent Roman Catholic synod of bishops in Rome where liberals and conservatives are divided over whether to admit remarried divorcees to Holy Communion.

The Church of England has a more relaxed attitude to the sacraments but even in the Anglican Communion, there are conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics who would oppose such a remarriage being permitted while a former spouse is still living.

The opposition stems from the traditional Gospel view that marriage is for life.

Bishop of Fulham Jonathan Baker, who chairs Forward in Faith, the main organisation that represents traditionalists, told Christian Today: “I wrote to clergy last week to inform them that, having received the consent of the Bishop of London, I will remarry in the spring of next year.

“I reached this decision after a great deal of thought and prayer. I fully respect and understand the position of clergy who exercise their right not to conduct further marriages in church and will support them in continuing to adopt such a policy.”

Bishop Baker also wrote to his clergy stating that the marriage will be a private civil ceremony, to be followed by a Mass celebrated by the Bishop of London, with prayers of dedication and thanksgiving at the Guild Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West.

He added: “I hope very much that you will understand that I have only reached this decision after a great deal of thought and prayer. I believe honestly that this is the best way of ordering my life and will provide a strong and stable future for me by the grace of God. I want to add just one or two things by way of context.

“While I have, of course, sought the permission of the Bishop of London as my Diocesan Bishop, I have also had discussions with the bishops of The Society, led by the Bishop of Pontefract, and he and they have been very supportive. I hope that those of you who exercise your right not to conduct further marriages in church can be reassured that that is a position I fully respect and understand, and that I will support you in continuing to adopt such a policy – and would defend and explain it to anyone who came to me for advice.”

According to US religion commentator George Conger the decision to let the “flying bishop” for traditionalist clergy, who looks after opponents of women priests in the Diocese of London, remarry has “raised concerns”.

“They are at a loss to understand how the bishop dedicated to providing pastoral support for traditionalists can himself adopt a stance at odds with the position of most traditionalists — and at odds with the public position taken by Forward in Faith on divorce and remarriage,” he wrote on the Anglican Ink website.

Until 2010, Church of England clergy who had been divorced and remarried could not become bishops.

The marriage has left some traditionalists “bewildered and unsettled” according to a statement from The Society, an arm of Forward in Faith that exists to manage episcopal oversight for traditionalist parishes.

Chairman Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract, said: “None of the bishops of The Society underestimates the searing grief that accompanies the breakdown of a marriage: many of us have shared this grief within our own families. The news that following divorce Bishop Jonathan Baker is to marry in a civil ceremony followed by a service of thanksgiving and dedication in church should draw the assurance of prayers from everyone, including from those who will be bewildered and unsettled by it.

“Bishop Jonathan has diligently sought the permissions that the Church of England requires for him to marry again. The Bishops of the Society reaffirm their commitment both to the Church’s teaching on Christian marriage as a sacramental sign, and to the need for pastoral sensitivity and care both for those who are married and for those whose marriages fail.

“Bishop Jonathan has been assured of our prayers.”

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14 Responses to I prefer to make no comment

  1. EPMS says:

    If Prince Charles had decided to become a Catholic he and Camilla could have been married in a Catholic Church, since her marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles had been annulled. The CofE offers no such option. This was also why Prince Michael of Kent had to marry the former Marie-Christine Troubridge, whose first marriage was annulled by the Catholic Church, in a civil ceremony.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: If Prince Charles had decided to become a Catholic he and Camilla could have been married in a Catholic Church, since her marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles had been annulled. The CofE offers no such option. This was also why Prince Michael of Kent had to marry the former Marie-Christine Troubridge, whose first marriage was annulled by the Catholic Church, in a civil ceremony.

      Your basic point is valid, but your terminology is a bit imprecise. A tribunal of the Catholic Church cannot “annul” (cancel) a marriage. Rather, a tribunal can only declare a supposed to have been null (invalid, or without effect) from the beginning. For this reason, it is not correct to use the term “annulment” in reference to such a decision. Rather, “decree of nullity” is the proper term.

      A secular court, on the other hand, does grant an annulment — that is, a cancellation of the ratification of a marriage.

      Norm.

  2. Is Bishop Baker actually stating that his marriage has been annulled? I don’t think so. Do we have any evidence that it would have been annulled? I don’t think so.

    • EPMS says:

      Of course not; that option does not exist in the Church of England. That was my point.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      David,

      You asked: Is Bishop Baker actually stating that his marriage has been annulled?

      If his new wife is, and intends to remain, Catholic, she might have insisted on a decree of nullity before they wed.

      You asked: Do we have any evidence that it would have been annulled?

      Even in the absence of evidence, the practical reality today is that a canon lawyer who cannot find a basis to declare a marriage null probably is a very poor canon lawyer.

      Norm.

  3. Do you two know something I do not? As far as I am concerned, this case has nothing to do with annulment, but with the remarriage of a divorced man, and above all the remarriage of an ANGLO-CATHOLIC BISHOP including a MASS celebrated by the Bishop of London (does Richard go in for Masses?).

    And now I am going to make the comment I wanted to avoid: I HAVE SELDOM HEARD ANYTHING SO HYPOCRITICAL IN MY LIFE ! It is like a fictitious Roman Catholic bishop, who thus far had appeared to oppose same-sex unions, getting married publicly to his live-in gay lover with a “nuptial mass” celebrated by the Cardinal. The man himself (and the Cardinal too for that matter!) would be pilloried from here to kingdom come, and he would resign within minutes of the first news report – and so he should.

    • William Tighe says:

      It is indeed very strange.

      Baker, when Principal of Pusey House, was a great advocate of “Rome is the answer”, but he never went (the same is true of Robin Ward, the Principal of St. Stephen’s House).

      He was also a very high-ranking Freemason, but I have been informed on very good authority that when he was nominated to succeed the now Msgr. Andrew Burnham as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Dr. Williams, the then archbishop, insisted that he sever his connexion with the Lodge before he would consecrate him.

      What is equally strange, and also alarming, is the way in which Forward-in-Faith seems to be attenuating, or at least downplaying, its opposition to homosexual practice.

    • EPMS says:

      I guess I was just trying to point out that the problem of ministering to the divorced and remarried in the Catholic Church is really the problem of ministering to those in this situation who have neglected or perhaps actively refused to seek decrees of nullity, because those who have bothered to try have been successful almost without exception, as Norm points out. So the CofE position is in practice far tougher, even extending to the refusal to remarry those whose marriages have been declared null by the Catholic Church. This position is sustainable only by the usual Anglican sleight-of-hand, where the couple marries elsewhere, and then reappears in the pew. I suppose if this bishop has previously denounced this he is in fact a hypocrite.

      • CatholicLeft says:

        “because those who have bothered to try have been successful almost without exception…”
        Not true sir, I know several who have not been able to receive a decree of nullity. The confusion might rest on the fact that those who make initial inquiries with a tribunal might, after an initial interview has shown that the chances of such a decree being granted are almost certainly nil, not bother continuing with the process. This might lead to the erroneus impression that such decrees, when sought, are always granted. The initial interview is as much a part of the process.
        As for the matter of Bishop Baker – the question is whether he would have got beyond the initial interview if a Roman Catholic; he might not have done. Who knows? The point of an apostle is surely that they should be seen as beyond reproach and, whilst Bishop Baker might very well have the prayers of many in his situation, he should not really remain the Bishop of Fulham and chairman of Forward in Faith in this situation.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      David,

      You asked: Do you two know something I do not?

      No, I don’t know anything whatsoever about this case. I’m simply pointing out possibilities.

      You continued: As far as I am concerned, this case has nothing to do with annulment, but with the remarriage of a divorced man, and above all the remarriage of an ANGLO-CATHOLIC BISHOP including a MASS celebrated by the Bishop of London (does Richard go in for Masses?).

      In so far as the Church of England (CoE) does not recognize decrees of nullity issued by Catholic tribunals, that is certainly true as it pertains to affairs within the CoE.

      You continued: And now I am going to make the comment I wanted to avoid: I HAVE SELDOM HEARD ANYTHING SO HYPOCRITICAL IN MY LIFE !

      I don’t disagree with this assessment, as it pertains to internal affairs of the CoE. But, then, liberal elements within the Anglican Communion have not cared about hypocrisy for over a decade now.

      On the other hand, many Anglo-Catholics have little tolerance for hypocrisy — and many undoubtedly will leave the CoE over this, finding the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham ready to receive them. The only question is whether the resulting exodus of Anglo-Catholics from the CoE will be limited to those served by this bishop or whether those served by the other “flying bishops” will join it.

      Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        “On the other hand, many Anglo-Catholics have little tolerance for hypocrisy — and many undoubtedly will leave the CoE over this, finding the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham ready to receive them. The only question is whether the resulting exodus of Anglo-Catholics from the CoE will be limited to those served by this bishop or whether those served by the other “flying bishops” will join it.”

        I would like to think so, Norm, and I would be pleased if you prove to be correct, but as regards FiF itself, the manner in which it is busily attenuating its opposition to homosexual practice and “partnerships” make me more and more of the mind that its increasingly obvious “sexual libertarianism” (itself perhaps one of several results of the departure of those doctrinally and morally orthodox leaders and members who have gone from AC to RC in the past 2 or 3 years) does and will trump (and eventually attenuate) its opposition both to WO and to the ongoing doctrinal deliquescence of the CofE.

  4. Joseph Golightly says:

    Bishop Baker has announced that he will not be seeking re-election as Chairman of Forward in Faith. One nomination has been received – the Bishop of Pontefract. So Podmore has achieved his goal of reworking that organisation, rewriting its history and throwing out all those he does not like. Its stand is firmly protestant and ABC (Anything But Catholic). Baker has aligned himself with Chartres who is well known in his dislike of Catholics. What a mess they have got themselves into

  5. EPMS says:

    Catholic Left, you are a UK resident and the success rate for receiving a decree of nullity is indeed lower there. In the US it is 97% but worldwide closer to 60%. Articles I have read suggest that the U.S. has put more resources into training canon lawyers to ensure that all grounds are considered, but other explanations are possible.

    • CatholicLeft says:

      Thank you for that, EPMS. I have heard it suggested that annulments are easier to attain in the U.S.A., but I have never really researched it.

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