Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

England – the gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on August 26, 2009

Dio_Canterbury_armsthree_lionsThe couple whose civil partnership ceremony is discussed here mention that it was due to be blessed in an Anglican church before the reception at the Athenaeum.

Once it was the love that dared not speak its name. Now it’s announced in The Times

 From TimesOnline, 19.02.05
 By Stefanie Marsh

A GAY couple have made history by announcing their engagement in The Times today.John O’Connor and Mark Jones, from London, plan to take advantage of legislation expected to come into force in the autumn which allows gay and lesbian couples to form legally recognised unions.

After their civil union, Mr O’Connor and Dr Jones will have their partnership blessed at an Anglican church in West London, followed by a reception for 50 people at Dr Jones’s club, the Athenaeum.

It is the first time that the announcement of a civil partnership between a same-sex couple has been printed in The Times’s Forthcoming Marriages column in the paper’s 220-year history.

The announcement reads: “A period of engagement is announced between Mr John Christopher O’Connor and Dr Mark Bryan Jones, both of Islington, London. Following the enactment of the ‘Civil Partnership’ legislation expected later this year, the couple will announce the time and location of both the civil union and subsequent church blessing ceremonies to interested parties.”

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Many of their relations will have been unaware that they intend to have their partnership officially recognised until today’s announcement.

Dr Jones, 41, a psychiatrist, had a five-month internet courtship with Mr O’Connor, 33, before meeting him. He said yesterday that he hoped that issuing a public statement would encourage people, including his own and Mr O’Connor’s parents, “seriously to consider the value of gay relationships”.

When they met in 2002, Dr Jones was to marry a woman — and had announced that engagement in The Times. His middle-class, Catholic background had made it difficult for him fully to come to terms with his sexuality until then, he said. When he was in his early twenties, he broached it with his father, who he says refused to speak to him for a decade.

“I do not think a civil partnership is the same as marriage because marriage is, in a sense, about children,” he said. “But there are parallels in terms of the equality and validity of our relationship. We have lived together for 17 months and John has loved me through the ups and downs of quite a serious illness.”

Mr O’Connor, a travel agent, proposed to Dr Jones, in St Lucia last month, where they exchanged rings. He has been openly gay since his teens. “There are still a lot of people who are openly homophobic and I hope that when the Civil Partnership Act comes in, a lot of things will change,” he said.

MPs defeated a Tory wrecking amendment to the Civil Partnership Bill last November, voting to allow gay couples the same property, tax and pension rights as married people. The Bill includes a court-based procedure for “divorce”.

“It (the Act) means emotional stability and the same rights as a married couple” said Dr Jones. “It also might show other people how seriously committed we are to each other.

“My parents still see it as ‘their fault’ that I am gay. All my life I have tried to appease them and it has not been a success. If they want to be part of our lives, they have to make the effort.”

Mr O’Connor and Dr Jones are also drawing up a “pre-nuptial” agreement over Dr Jones’s earnings before they met.

A survey last year by the gay newspaper, The Pink Paper, found that 70,000 gay or lesbian couples were considering some form of commitment ceremony. Relate, the marriage guidance service, is planning courses to prepare gay people for civil partnerships.

Sir Elton John and his boyfriend David Furnish have indicated their intention to take advantage of the Bill as have Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, and his partner, Neil Dalgleish, a BBC producer.



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