Marriage of UK priests reignites gay clergy row

The first gay marriage has been carried out in an Anglican church between two priests, it was reported today.

The Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London last month, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Although some clergy have carried out blessings for civil ceremonies before, this is the first time the traditional wedding marriage service has been held for a same sex couple, it said.

The Sunday Telegraph quoted the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Orombi, as saying: "The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching."

The news will renew bitter debate among Anglicans over the issues of gay priests and homosexual marriage.

Under Church of England guidance, gay clergy can enter a civil partnership if they provide reassurance that they will abstain from sex.

Couples who ask a priest to bless their union must be dealt with "pastorally and sensitively" on an individual basis.

Anglican Bishops hold widely varying views on sexuality and the Church leaders have struggled to find middle ground.

The Church was divided by the appointment of its first openly gay Bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003.

He exchanged vows with his long-term partner Mark Andrew, in a civil ceremony in America earlier this month.

Mr Robinson has been excluded from the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, a key church gathering which is held once every 10 years and will take place in Canterbury next month.

Sexuality is one of the topics up for discussion.

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