The former wife of openly gay Rev Scott Rennie, whose ordination is threatening to create a schism in the Church of Scotland, has spoken out in his defence.

Ruth Rennie said: “I see very little compassion in the way some people are treating Scott.

“In his ministry, Scott is a naturally sensitive and caring person and what he has faced up to has probably made him an even better pastor.

“It will be a tremendous loss to the church if he is prevented from taking up his post at Queen’s Cross.”

The couple’s marriage broke up five years ago. They have a young daughter.

Ms Rennie added: “Our separation took place before Scott told me of his sexuality.

“No one should have to endure mental torture and I think Scott made a courageous decision.

“Scott’s life as a father and a married man is equally valid to his life today as an openly gay man.”

Mr Rennie’s appointment to Queen’s Cross Church will be debated in the General Assembly on May 23rd.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the decision to ordain him to be struck down, despite 80 per cent of his congregation voting for him.

The ordination of Rennie, who lives openly with his partner, to the church in Aberdeen has been described as the biggest issue to face the Church in 160 years, after the disruption of 1843.

The row has become increasingly bitter with opponents and supporters publicly attacking each other.