Gay Priest quits Church of England in order to marry his partner

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A gay priest has quit the Church of England in order to be able to marry his fiance.

Reverend Clive Larsen, 60, quit as a parish priest in Manchester diocese on Friday, and is believe to be the first gay priest to have quit over the issue.

He plans to marry tomorrow, and would have been disciplined by the Church if he had gone ahead with his wedding while remaining a priest.

“The church does not permit it and if this is something you want to do, you have to pay the price and leave the church,” Larsen told the Sunday Times.

“I am aware of two other clergy who have had [same-sex] marriages and the church has made life very difficult for them.”

The Sunday Times reports that four other gay priests have married and have been allowed to keep their licences, but that they had to undergo disciplinary action.

Larsen will marry his partner John in a ceremony on Monday, and celebrated their forthcoming marriage at his former church, the St Agnes Church in North Reddish yesterday.

The church’s website contained a notice which was removed after the Sunday Times began inquiring about Larsen’s resignation, which read: “A ceremony of commitment and blessing . . . Clive will be resigning his post in the church from the day before.”

It asked for guests to “make a bit of an effort”, and invited people to bring food and drinks to share.

Yesterday’s service included a blessing which includes: “God the giver of life, God the bearer of pain, God the maker of love, bless, preserve and keep you.”

But Larsen said his intention in quitting was to avoid embarrassing the Bishop of Manchester David Walker, or the Church of England.

His original plan had been to marry David whilst still a priest and quit afterwards, but he was issued a “dynamite” warning, Reverend Colin Coward said on Larsen’s behalf.

The priest says he had hoped to leave his post with the opportunity to return, but that he feels there is “no way back now”.

In March, a gay clergyman who lost an employment tribunal against the Church of England after he was sacked for marrying his husband said he had won the right to appeal the decision.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton took the church to court last year, when he was not allowed to take up a new post as a hospital chaplain because he’d married his partner.

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