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Bishop Baker has permission to remarry

31 October 2014

ELEANOR COURSE/DIOCESE OF YORK

Full house: the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, assisted by his deacons, the Revd Daniel Howard and the Revd Christopher Brading, censes the altar during his Provincial Festival Mass at York Minster, on 11 October. He encouraged the congregation of more than 1500 to "take the invitation to flourish"

Full house: the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, assisted by his deacons, the Revd Daniel Howard and the Revd Christopher Brading, cens...

THE chairman of Forward in Faith (FiF), the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, who is divorced, is to marry again.

In a letter to his clergy, dated 22 October, Bishop Baker said that he had been given permission to remarry by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. A civil ceremony will take place in the spring, followed by a mass celebrated by Bishop Chartres, with prayers of dedication and thanksgiving, at the Guild Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West, where Bishop Baker is Guild Vicar.

He wrote: "I hope very much that you will understand that I have only reached this decision after a great deal of thought and prayer. I believe honestly that this is the best way of ordering my life, and will provide a strong and stable future for me by the grace of God. . .

"I hope that those of you who exercise your right not to conduct further marriages in church can be reassured that that is a position I fully respect and understand, and that I will support you in continuing to adopt such a policy - and would defend and explain it to anyone who came to me for advice."

Bishop Baker confirmed in the letter that he had had discussions with the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, which was created to care for those who will continue to seek special provision after women are admitted to the episcopate.

On Monday, a statement from the Society's Council of Bishops, of which Bishop Baker is a member, said: "None of the bishops of the Society underestimates the searing grief that accompanies the breakdown of a marriage: many of us have shared this grief within our own families.

"The news that, following divorce, Bishop Jonathan Baker is to marry in a civil ceremony, followed by a service of thanksgiving and dedication in church, should draw the assurance of prayers from everyone, including from those who will be bewildered and unsettled by it.

"The bishops of the Society reaffirm their commitment both to the Church's teaching on Christian marriage as a sacramental sign, and to the need for pastoral sensitivity and care, both for those who are married and for those whose marriages fail."

On Tuesday, Bishop Baker confirmed that, after serving a four-year term as chairman of Forward in Faith in November, he would not seek re-election. He had informed the FiF Council of this on 9 October, before notifying his clergy of his intention to remarry.

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