Friday, February 08, 2013

At Evensong...

... at Pr Blood Church, I found myself sitting next to the excellent Neil Addison of the Thomas More Legal Centre.  A good discussion later over supper. It's clear - this also came up at a discussion elsewhere earlier in the day - that one result of the Govt's planned legislation will be that civil marriage will be made separate from marriage in church. Couples would go through a legal ceremony - this could perhaps be done in a solicitor's office - on a different day,  quite separately from the wedding. The legal ceremony could even be a Civil Union, as that would confer adequate legal protection to cover things like immigration status or inheritance matters.   And the Church could celebrate Holy Matrimony with joy, unencumbered.

It is likely that a change in the law on this will be presented by supporters of the govt's Bill:  it may be offered in an irritating or rather smug aren't-we-clever sort of way, which doesn't mean it won't be useful.   However, it should come from our side of the debate - our Bishops should be taking the initiative and putting it forward now. It is an idea that has been around for a good while - other Catholic lawyers were suggesting it at the time of the Blair government's divorce laws, and it has also been discussed in the USA...a good analysis of the idea is is made here..

A busy day: I did some broadcasts for Heart Gives Unto Heart Radio,  tackled some more work at the CTS, and got up to date on various plans for later in the year (Australian lecture-tour coming up).

And don't miss THIS CONFERENCE,  which could not be more topical or important. Auntie will be there, and so should you. But it's especially important for teachers and for school governors, for clergy and for anyone working with the young. Be there!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beware it is illegal under the 1949 Marriage Act to solemnise a marriage that has not first been registered in civil law. If churches withdraw from civil marriage then couples would have to attend the registry office before going to church. In this sense there is no way round the civil marriage contract, however it is defined, because the state sees marriage as a part of its remit, as a public civil institution and not a purely private one.

It is not clear whether you think that civil marriage could be replaced with a private contract between the spouses, but this would surely be impossible under the current law.