Saturday, 16 June 2012

I'm the Guy Who Found the Lost Cause

Government proposals for altering the nature of marriage have been made, which no member of the Church of England can possibly accept. These proposals are incoherent and badly drafted; and we believe that to impose a new meaning on a term so familiar and fundamental as “marriage” would be deeply unwise.

We refer, of course, to proposals by the unelected Lord Hardwicke to require the registration of marriages as a condition that they be legally recognised.

It is fundamental to the nature of marriage that consent, in the absence of impediment, and followed by consummation, is all that is required for a valid union. This nature is intrinsic to marriage, enshrined in human institutions before the advent of either church or state.

The requirement for lawful rite and registration implies a distinction between universally and legally valid marriage which has not hitherto existed in English law. Without explicitly intending to do so, Lord Hardwicke’s proposals create a category of legally invalid marriage which nonetheless, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, would be a true marriage.

The proposals therefore oblige the clergy to break their oaths of canonical obedience, which oblige them to record all marriages, since they may become aware of existing marriages which, in the absence of proper form, are legally invalid and therefore cannot be registered.

These proposals threaten to drive a further wedge between church and state, and to test the already  strained loyalties of the clergy.

We are further suspicious the personal views of the minister making these proposals, well known for his sympathies inimical to the Tory clergy. It is, however, typical of the thoughtless destruction of institutions which is typical of our modern polity.

We will therefore also be taking this opportunity to protest the Toleration Act, the Act of Settlement, and many more, in which the traditions of our church and state have lately much been disrupted. It is these which have introduced into our political life this fanaticism for making all things new: for making kings contrary to nature the doges of a republic and the Church of England a mere sect.

It is not seemly fundamentally to alter the character of institutions to gain a passing political advantage. Once we admit the right to do so there can be no rest until Parliament has reformed itself away in response to a season of public clamour, until corporations are abolished under the pretence of corruption and bishops suppressed on grounds of utility. And when we have handed over the supreme power to papist, atheists and democrats, where will the great genius of Britain then be found?

Not in my name, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Of course Sui Juris is quite right in his jurisdiction.

    But in other jurisidctions the recognition of a marriage is prescribed in parliamentary legislation.

    And in such cases the priest, as the state sees it, is no more than a differently dressed marriage celebrant.

    As always the perspective depends on the end of the telescope one observes from.