Meanwhile, in London, two men marry in a church ceremony

While Anglicans disagreed to disagree in Canterbury over the question of same-sex marriage, John Cunningham and John Johnston were married in the City of London by the Reverend Joost Röselaers, The Guardian reports. From Giles Fraser, in Loose Canon:

Interestingly, the London ceremony wasn’t a blessing or a carefully cobbled together service after a civil ceremony. It was a proper marriage, something the current C of E hierarchy has banned priests like me from undertaking. But the Rev Joost Röselaers, minister of the Dutch church in Austin Friars, is able to conduct the ceremony because of a little-known historical loophole. In 1550, Edward VI granted a charter to Protestant refugees living in London, giving them the same privileges as the C of E. He permitted the Dutch “freely and quietly to practise, enjoy, use and exercise their own rites and ceremonies, and their own ecclesiastical discipline, notwithstanding that they do not conform with the rites and ceremonies used in our Kingdom, without impeachment, disturbance or vexation”.

When Edward granted this charter he obviously didn’t have gay marriage in mind. It was his father, Henry VIII, who had first introduced the civil crime of buggery in 1533 – though no one took much notice. The only notable court case during the Tudor period was of the Rev Nicholas Udall, the headmaster of Eton. And even this didn’t much harm his career, as he went on to be headmaster of Westminster. The purpose of Edward’s charter was to further the cause of the Protestant reformation of England. And within 20 years the Dutch church at Austin Friars was being held up as a model congregation to which the Church of England should aspire – as it should again today.

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