Northern Ireland Bishop Pat Buckley has announced he will wed his boyfriend in a civil partnership ceremony next week.

Bishop Buckley, who is not recognised as a bishop by the Catholic Church since his excommunication in 1998, has been with his partner for almost three years. He came out in 1999.

The couple will have their ceremony on February 8th at Larne borough council, followed by another ceremony at Bishop Buckley’s private independent chapel in Larne.

The 57-year-old says he will continue to preach after his nuptials to Filipino chef Eduardo Yango, 32, making him the first Catholic priest to do so.

Bishop Buckley was ordained as a Catholic diocesan priest in 1976. He set up an independent ministry in 1986 and was subsequently excommunicated when he was ordained as an episcopal bishop in 1998.

He now offers wedding ceremonies for divorcees and mixed-religion couples along with blessings for gays and lesbians, styling himself as an “unofficial chaplain to disaffected and alienated Catholics and Christians”.

He told the Sunday Tribune: “There is no conflict between my love for Eduardo and my faith. Both are equally important to me. But this is ground-breaking territory.

“Other priests have married women or entered civil partnerships with men. But they’d all left the church beforehand – none continued with their ministry.

“I’ve been battling against the Catholic church as an institution for 25 years. I’m old and wise enough not to lose sleep worrying over what the hierarchy thinks.”

In 2002, Bishop Buckley said that gays and lesbians would be “as welcome in heaven as all others” and described homophobia as “immoral and sinful”.