Reported in the News Letter on January 17, 1929: Bishop pledges not to marry anyone who has been divorced

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The Bishop of St Albans (Dr Furse), in an address after instituting the Rev H O Cavalier to the benefice of St Stephen’s, said: “I have given instructions to the clergy in this diocese that, so far as I am concerned, they are not to marry people in church who have not been baptised.

“I am not allowed to use the service in the Book of Common Prayer to bury people, unless they have been baptised. That is laid down, not in the new Prayer Book but in the old Prayer Book.

“I have had letters and there have been newspaper articles, stating: ‘He is a narrow-minded ecclesiastic; he ought to be stopped.’ Well, stop me. I am going on until I am stopped.

“I am not going to be a party if I can help it to anyone being married by the Church service who has been divorced. You may say, ‘Who are you to judge them? You are no better than they are.’ The marriage service means ‘For better or worse. I am going to stick to you as my husband or wife. You may make it impossible for me to live with you, but I am going to stick to you as my husband or wife till death us do part.’ You take a solemn oath before God in His Church and then you ask me to administer the same oath to the man or woman who has broken it.

“I am not going to make the Word of God a blasphemous farce. No man has any right to ask a Bishop to be a party to any such disgusting and gross act of blasphemy. If you don’t like it, go to a register office and say, ‘I will take you until you make life absolutely impossible, and then I will be off with you.’ That is the honest thing to do.”