The Church of England's first ‘gay marriage’
But this was insufficient for these two priests, as was a post-partnership blessing. They have been married at St Bartholomew the Great -one of London's oldest churches - using a ritual taken substantially from the Book of Common Prayer. The ceremony included marriage vows, exchanging of rings, and the Eucharist. The language was, of course, slightly edited for use by two men.
The Order of Service is available here, and it is clear that this ceremony broke Church of England guidelines and was performed in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place.
It was presided over by the Reverend Martin Dudley, who opened the service by saying: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity. Such a covenant shows us the mystery of the union between God and God's people and between Christ and the Church." In the vows, Mr Cowell and Dr Lord pledged to "hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part".
Mr Dudley blessed the union with the words: "As David and Jonathan's souls were knit together, so these men may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made."
It is evident that, to all intents and purposes, the Reverend Martin Dudley has indeed officiated over a proper wedding service - a Nuptial Mass - using the Church's traditional liturgy. And the fact that the 'marriage' was between two ordained priests makes the issue impossible to ignore on the eve of the Lambeth Conference.
The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was ‘blasphemous’. He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to ‘disintegrate’. He added: “What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us. The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching.”
Conservative MP Sir Patrick Cormack, a prominent Anglican, said: “This is extraordinary. I am surprised the rector of such an important church should act in apparent defiance of his bishop.”
But Cranmer is not remotely surprised, for this is the Church of England.
And he shall be just as unsurprised when the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury say nothing, and do even less.