Retired vicar defies Church of England by marrying 24-year-old male model
A retired vicar, aged 78, has tied the knot to his 24-year-old partner.
Under current Church of England rules, clergymen are banned from performing same-sex marriages or entering them themselves.
But 78-year-old Rev Philip Clements, a retired former parish priest in Eastry, Kent, flouted the rules yesterday – by getting married to his 24-year-old partner Florin.
The gay vicar revealed is planning to start a new life in his husband’s native Romania and travel the world, after getting married in a civil ceremony on Tuesday.
He explained: “It’s only when I retired from full-time ministry that I decided I had to be my true self. It’s unnatural to keep on denying it.”
The couple have taken on each other’s surnames and today became Philip Clements-Marin and Florin Marin-Clements.
The reverend’s same-sex nuptials had been met with some hostility locally.
In a letter to the local newspaper, one local compared Rev Clements to Judas.
The angry letter-writer wrote: “[There is an] interesting parallel, rather appropriately, leading up to Easter, between Judas Iscariot, who was with Jesus for the three years of his earthly ministry and yet misunderstood him so much.
“We now have the ex-vicar of Eastry, who has spent even more time in Christian service without understanding the Bible or Christianity, now trying to force the Church into his views about marrying gay clergy.”
Speaking to Kent Online, Rev Clements said: “Jesus taught us to love our neighbours and not to judge. Jesus never once commented on this particular topic.
“Judas did a terrible thing. I’ve never betrayed Jesus and I would never encourage people to do that.”
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He added: “I know that evangelical fundamentalists will say that this sort of thing… I think the Church needs to move on to understand life for many in the 21st century.
“My friends have accepted it and have sent us messages of support and good wishes for our new life in Romania.
“Those who feel negative about it, we haven’t heard from them.”
The couple have attracted press attention because Mr Marin, 24, is half a century his partner’s junior.
But they insist their relationship is natural.
Mr Marin said: “All my friends know that my type is old people because they have more experience in life.”
A number of active Church of England clergy have already defied the controversial ban on same-sex unions, which was hastily implemented before equal marriage became legal in England and Wales.
The Church recently vowed to go back to the drawing board in a bid to broker a solution on the issue, which has led to a deep split the church.