Sir, - Since the announcement of the proposed marriage between the Prince of
Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles, I have expected to see a certain comment made by
churchmen, but it has not been forthcoming. The announcement brings to my mind
thoughts of Henry VIII, and suggests grounds for the disestablishment of the
Church of England. I have never seen Dr Rowan Williams look and sound so
pressured and uncomfortable as he did on the occasion when he was questioned
about his views, and the teachings of the Church, in relation to church
involvement in this marriage ceremony. Would he have found himself in the same
situation if the Church in England were free of government/political pressure?
As someone who agonised for years before her own divorce, I am only too well
aware of the Church's teaching on marriage and divorce, Christ's teaching on
repentance, and the tremendous distress that divorce engenders for the
committed Christian. A divorced Christian wishing to marry again is faced with
a situation that normally deserves sincere repentance on his or her own part,
and understanding and compassion from the Church, particularly if he or she is
the so-called innocent party, before a new marriage can take place.
Neither the Prince of Wales nor Mrs Parker Bowles can, on their own
admission, be regarded as innocent parties. Specific facts, considered in the
light of the Prince's future role as Defender of the Faith and nominal head of
the Church in England, cast doubts on his ability to fulfil this role and
remain true to church teaching. He has said that he has loved Mrs Parker Bowles
for more than 30 years: we have to assume that he entered his first marriage
without any intention of keeping the solemn promises he made before God. How
can the Church, in all honesty, accept and endorse a marriage that seems to
have so little sign of repentance for past wrong?
I have been a royalist for much of my life, but this marriage and the
apparent support of it given by the Church has caused me, and many, many like
me, great sadness. It will irrevocably damage the Church's credibility. Does
the Church really have one teaching for royalty and a different one for the
rest of us?
E. ARNOLD-DAVIES (Reader)
3 Queen Street,
Ceredigion SA46 0BY