Wedding of Priests..

An Anglican church has held a homosexual wedding for the first time; two male priests exchanged vows and rings in a ceremony using one of the church's most traditional wedding rites. The decision was seen as blasphemous by conservatives and will undoubtedly deepen the rift between liberals and traditionalists.

The ceremony broke Church of England guidelines and was carried out last month in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place. News of the gay wedding emerged days before a crucial summit of the Anglican Church's conservative bishops and archbishops, who are threatening to split the worldwide church over the issue of homosexual clergy.

Although some liberal clergy have carried out "blessing ceremonies" for homosexual couples in the past, this is the first time a vicar has performed a wedding ceremony, using a traditional marriage liturgy, with readings, hymns and a Eucharist. The conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican Communion expressed shock on Saturday.

The Archbishop of Uganda condemned the controversial wedding as blasphemous and called on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to take decisive action otherwise the Anglican Church might "disintegrate". The Bishop of Winchester, a powerful conservative figure, said that the service represented a wedding "in all but name", and that it clearly flouts church guidelines and would exacerbate divisions within the Church.

The service was held at St Bartholomew the Great in London - one of England's oldest churches, which featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral - and was conducted by the parish rector, the Reverend Martin Dudley. The "marriage" will revive the war over homosexual clergy that has engulfed the church since 2003, when Gene Robinson was made Bishop of New Hampshire and Jeffrey John, another gay cleric, who was about to become Bishop of Reading, was made to step down.

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