Rules may be relaxed

Published March 1, 2001


The Church of England could permit divorcees to remarry in church as early as next year after a consultation with church representatives from eight dioceses. Seven of the dioceses expressed strong support for the idea.

Brian Hanson, legal adviser to the church’s General Synod, said a two-stage process could be finalized in the summer of 2002. However, opponents may attempt to delay the permissions by requiring a change in canon law, which would mean a further consultation with dioceses.

The results have surprised traditionalists in England, who fear the move could damage the moral standing of the church by ending the centuries-old prohibition. Bishop Edwin Barnes of Richborough said that the church should be making it clear that marriage is a lifelong commitment and anything that undermines that “weakens both church and nation.”

With more than four in 10 marriages now ending in divorce, many clergy believe the church’s policy against second marriages prevents it from serving large numbers of its own followers.


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