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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 13:48 GMT
Divorcees questioned before church weddings
wedding
Remarriages are blessed "in exceptional circumstances"
Divorcees wishing to remarry within the Church of England are to be asked if their new relationships caused their first marriages to fail.

In an attempt to avoid scandal and in order not to consecrate infidelity, the House of Bishops has advised priests to ask couples "searching questions".

A Church of England spokesman said: "When the General Synod gave final approval in November to the remarriage of divorcees in exceptional circumstances, the House of Bishops was invited to issue advice on the matter."

COUPLES WILL BE ASKED:
When did your current relationship begin?
What have you learned from previous marriages?
Has there been a "healing of past hurts"?
What do others think of your new marriage plans?
What does marriage mean to you?
How are your children being looked after?
What are your hopes for the future?
Have you been divorced more than once?

Couples will be given time to reflect on the questions and then told to give frank and honest answers.

They will also have to complete a questionnaire, giving names of their previous spouses, their ages when they married, the dates they separated, the ages of children, and why they want to remarry in church.

Reverend Canon David Grimwood, Chairman of the Family Life & Marriage Education network (Flame) told BBC News Online: "This area raises immense anxieties among clergy and people experiencing divorce and love.

"While wishing to advocate the integrity and commitment of marriage, the Church needs to recognise failure and the possibility of new beginnings."

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