LONDON – The Bishop of London said Sunday he would order an investigation into a wedding-like church service for two male priests.
The priests exchanged rings and vows in a service at one of London's oldest churches marked by a fanfare of trumpets and capped by a shower of confetti on May 31, Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported.
The Bishop of London the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres said in a statement that such services were not authorized in the Church of England and said he would ask the archdeacon of London to investigate.
While civil partnerships between homosexual couples are officially recognized in Britain, the Church of England's guidelines ask clergy not to bless such partnerships.
The wedding ceremony is likely to anger conservative members of the Anglican Communion, a loose-knit worldwide Christian grouping that includes the U.S. Episcopal Church.
Conservatives are fiercely opposed to both same-sex partnerships and the ordaining of gay priests, and the issue threatens to tear the Anglicans apart. The Archbishop of Uganda the Most Rev. Henry Orombi was quoted by the Telegraph as calling the ceremony blasphemous.
The ceremony took place at St. Bartholomew the Great, according to the Telegraph. The Rev. Peter Cowell and the Rev. David Lord walked up the aisle in morning suits to the tune of Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and, after exchanging rings, took part in communion, the paper said.
While not technically a marriage, the ceremony's liturgy, including the introductory "Dearly beloved..." closely matched the wording used for weddings.
Telephone and e-mail messages left at St. Bartholomew the Great were not immediately returned.
The Sunday Times quoted the Rev. Martin Dudley, who presided over the service, as saying he had no regrets.
"Unrepentant would be the right word," Dudley was quoted as saying. "I have made no secret about this. I have done something that was a very nice pastoral, godly occasion. ... I certainly didn't do it to defy anyone. I have done what I believe is right."
Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion's spiritual leader, was unlikely to make any public comment about the controversy.