Bishops fear marriage lottery over C of E rules on divorce CHURCH of ENGLAND plans to remarry divorcees have been plunged into confusion after lawyers warned that proposed national guidelines drawn up by bishops cannot be enforced.
The Church's centuries old prohibition on divorcees remarrying had been expected to end within a year but only after guidelines to ensure consistency and to avoid scandals had been agreed. Now, however, it has emerged that the proposed Code of Practice will have no more than moral force, and that bishops will not be able to prevent clergy from doing as they please. The plans will, lawyers warn, create a "lottery" in which some vicars flatly refuse to marry any divorcees at all, while others are prepared to marry adulterers. The House sydney pandora of Bishops is nevertheless planning a debate on the reforms at the General Synod in the summer. Many clergy are already flouting the Church's official line by marrying divorcees. The practice is so widespread that it is estimated that one in 10 marriages in church already involves a divorcee. A consultation held last year found that almost all the dioceses also back the reforms in principle, despite concern that the move would undermine the traditional teaching that marriage is for life. A House of Bishops working party published a draft Code of Practice two years ago which would require clergy wanting to marry divorcees to weed out couples whose background could cause outrage. The bishops have been particularly keen to ensure that people who were clearly involved in the break up of their first marriages were prevented from receiving a church wedding. The guidelines were also designed to ensure that the second marriage would not reopen old wounds, and that any children of the first marriage had been properly sale of pandora charms looked after. Church pandra charms lawyers, however, have warned that couples could claim that their human rights were being infringed if a bishop tried to block a wedding. The Rev Stephen Trott, a member of the General Synod and a canon lawyer, said: "The aim of the guidelines was to try to ensure consistency of practice across the Church of England. In reality, it will simply open a Pandora's Box to every kind of abuse. "In one parish, the vicar pandora bracelet charms will refuse to marry any divorcees. Next door, the vicar will marry all comers without any questions asked. The whole plan should be abandoned." The bishops remain confident, however, that the guidelines can be made effective. The Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Rev Colin Buchanan, said: "The guidelines are an appeal to the clergy to act in a coherent way and to provide them with a set of standards so they are not just being arbitrary.
"We are aware, however, that clergy may click their fingers at these guidelines. We are trying to find ways to advise the Synod about what it can do about this.".
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