The Church of England, established by the much-wedded King Henry VIII, took a step today toward approving remarriage for divorced people--an issue that may be of great interest to the heir to the British throne.
Recommendations published by a group of bishops, if adopted by the church's governing General Synod in 2002, could make it easier for Prince Charles to contemplate marriage to his longtime love, Camilla Parker Bowles.
But the church's main concern is dealing with the realities of a country with one of the highest divorce rates in Europe, and the fact that a third of its priests already are exercising their legal right to perform marriages involving divorced people.
Among the conditions for remarriage proposed by the bishops: Divorced people should be honest about the reasons for the failure of their previous marriage, adequate provision should be made for supporting children, the new relationship should not be the cause of breaking up the previous marriage, and "a reasonable time" should have passed since the divorce. Bishops also recommended that remarriage should normally not be permitted for people who have been divorced more than once.
The decision in each case would be made by the local priest in consultation with the bishop.
The bishops' recommendation applies only to churches in England. Other Anglican churches, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States, are free to set their own policies.