Wedding reflects double standard

by
02 November 2006

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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,
Aberaeron
Ceredigion SA46 0BY

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