Divorce and the English Clergy c.1970-1990

Neil Armstrong

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    Abstract

    This article sheds light on how the Church of England discussed and managed divorce and remarriage in the later decades of the twentieth century. In the context of rapidly rising divorce rates, the Church’s continued opposition to remarrying divorcees left it increasingly out of step with the expectations and experiences of large number of people. With the Church seemingly unable to offer forgiveness and a second chance to the many individuals whose marriages ended, the private misfortunes of clergy couples and the conduct of clergymen who failed in their role as moral exemplars came under ever greater public scrutiny than before. At the same time, these issues revealed further dimensions to the gender inequalities present within the Church, as abandoned clergy wives were forced to campaign for rights to housing, financial assistance and counselling support. The article demonstrates how the Church became caught between a perceived need to defend the Christian ideal of marriage against the legacies of the permissive 1960s, and the desire to promote itself as a modern compassionate institution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    JournalTwentieth Century British History
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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