UK

Marriage banns 'should be axed' urges clergy member

A couple at their wedding Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The reading of a couple's names takes place over three Sunday services within three months of their marriage

The 800-year-old tradition of reading marriage banns should be scrapped by the Church of England, a senior member of the clergy has urged.

The reading of a couple's names takes place over three Sunday services within three months of their marriage.

But Reverend Stephen Trott has asked the General Synod to consider replacing the banns with the same process as for a civil ceremony.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt says some believe it is an outdated tradition.

But supporters of keeping the custom argue that it can draw lapsed Christians back to the church, as friends and relatives of the couple attend church to hear the banns read, our correspondent adds.

'Antiquated'

The reading of the marriage banns was designed to allow worshippers to object if they believed the marriage was illegal.

Canon David Houlding, a senior member of the clergy at St Paul's Cathedral, told the Mail on Sunday: "Banns of marriage are so antiquated and a complete nuisance.

"They should be scrapped. It is all a money-making exercise."

Publication of banns of marriage is listed as £28 and the certificate of banns is £13, on the Church of England website.

Mr Trott will table his motion at a meeting of the General Synod on Monday.

He has asked them to note "the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings".

His motion urges the Synod to "invite the Archbishops' Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1997, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar."