Anglican Diocese Lifts Ban on Remarriage

43 Others Expected to Follow Suit

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LONDON, MAR. 6, 2001 ( The ban on divorced people marrying in church has been lifted for the first time in an Anglican diocese, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

The bishop of Chester, the Right Reverend Peter Forster, announced the change Monday after the Diocesan Synod voted 132-5 on Friday for a motion stating that «there are circumstances in which divorced people might be remarried in church in the lifetime of their former spouse.»

The vote in Chester, which covers Cheshire and areas of Greater Manchester, is part of a national program to test opinion, and the other 43 dioceses are expected to follow suit. Each diocese will vote on the issue this year, and the findings reported to the House of Bishops going to the General Synod in November.

Already 11 other dioceses have voted in favor of the change, but are waiting for the General Synod´s vote before changing official policy. No dioceses have so far voted against it.

Although there are clergy in every diocese who allow divorcees to marry in their churches, Anglican Church teaching is that marriage is «lifelong.» The bishop of Chester said: «I agree with the need for reform because at the heart of the Christian faith is a belief in forgiveness and the possibility of new beginnings.» He said he would tell his clergy to be «properly cautious» and avoid «scandal.»

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