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Sussex: Gay vicar under ‘homophobic’ ban for refusing to confirm celibacy

Stephen Gray July 13, 2012
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A gay vicar in Sussex says the Church of England implemented a “homophobic” ban after he refused to say whether his civil partnership was celibate.

Reverend David Page of the St Thomas the Martyr church in Winchelsea had continued to officiate at services after officials denied him permission.

The BBC reports that he has now been stopped by Church officials because he refused to answer what he called “intrusive” questions about his relationship.

While it allows them to enter civil partnership, the Church requires priests to be celibate. The Diocese of Chichester confirmed Mr Page was the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings for continuing to preach.

Mr Page said the local community was “up in arms” about what was “in essence, a homophobic act” on the Church’s part.

He had been allowed by the local parish council to preach despite the Bishop of Lewes blocking him in 2008 when he refused to clarify the nature of his relationship.

The Reverend Howard Cocks, approaching retirement as Rector of Winchelsea, told churchgoers this weekend: “Permission… was refused on the grounds that he is in a civil partnership and was not prepared to discuss the nature of their relationship, finding the questioning intrusive.

“Both he and myself have been cited under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 – David for exercising ministry and me for permitting it.”

The Diocese of Chichester said: “This is a requirement of canon law and may not be disregarded. This is now the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings.”

More: ban, Church, Church of England, Gay, preacher, Religion, Sussex, vicar

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