Labour MP Ben Bradshaw: I want to know will the Church sack a priest for marrying a gay partner?

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Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has thrown down the gauntlet to the Church of England, saying it should confirm whether it would defrock a priest for marrying a same-sex partner.

The former Culture Secretary accused the Church of “trying to have its cake and eat it” by accepting same-sex marriage for its members, but not for its clergy.

Mr Bradshaw, who sits on Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee, will raise the question in the Commons on Thursday.

The Exeter MP said he accepted and understood the Church’s “desire to move slowly and to make its own rules”. But he said clarity was needed.

The BBC reports Mr Bradshaw, who entered into a civil partnership in 2006, said it would be “pretty extreme” for a priest to be defrocked for flouting the ruling.

“It’s a bit of a muddle and I think what we would need – what people want – is some clarity,” Mr Bradshaw said.

“What’s difficult, particularly for those priests who have said already, publicly, that they would like to marry – or they intend to marry – their long-term partner, I think they need to know where they’re going to stand.

“Are they going to be disciplined? Are they going to be sacked?”

Yesterday, Reverend Steven Hanna, of St Elisabeth’s Church in Dagenham, east London, slammed clergy for blessing gay couples, saying doing so is “disrespectful” to the Church of England, “unfaithful to Christ” and “ultimately confusing”.

Rev Hanna made the remarks in a BBC interview regarding Rev Andrew Cain, the north London gay vicar who says he is prepared to defy a Church of England ban on the blessings of same-sex marriages.

Rev Cain vows to marry his partner of 14 years despite the risk that he could be thrown out of the Church.

The House of Bishops confirmed last month: “It will continue not to be legally possible for two persons of the same sex to marry according to the rites of the Church of England.”

As part of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which comes into force on Saturday 29 March, the Church of England is legally safe-guarded from marrying same-sex couples.