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RELIGION : Commons Junks Church of England Proposal to Ordain Divorced Men

<i> From Times wire service</i> s

The Church of England’s proposals to allow the ordination of divorced men and of men married to divorced women were defeated in the House of Commons today.

Lawmakers voted 51 to 45 to reject the proposals, which had been approved by the General Synod, the church’s governing body, and by the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber of Parliament.

Archbishop of Canterbury Robert A. K. Runcie, the spiritual leader of the Church of England and 70 million Anglicans worldwide, supported the proposals, hoping they would boost the declining number of clergy. Runcie said the experience of a failed marriage could help others facing a similar situation and called on Parliament to “lay stress on grace and forgiveness.”

Conservative lawmaker Sir John Stokes told the House of Commons he feared the proposals “would send out a wrong or confusing signal to ordinary people in England who are looking to the church and the clergy to set high standards.”

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