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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
'Doubting dean' resigns post
The bishop (second left) suspended the dean (far right)
A Church of Ireland minister who was suspended after he said Jesus was not the Son of God has resigned.

The Dean of Clonmacnoise in the Republic of Ireland, the Very Reverend Andrew Furlong, wrote that Jesus and John the Baptist were mistaken and misguided.

He was suspended by the Bishop of Meath and asked to resign, but he initially refused.

The matter had been due to go to an ecclesiastical court.

In a statement released after the Dean's resignation on Tuesday, the Church said: "The Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Reverend Richard Clarke, has withdrawn the petition which he presented to the Court of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland."

Beliefs

His unconventional views on Christianity, which were made last year, startled his congregation, colleagues and his bishop.

His authority as a priest had been withdrawn for three months to give him time to reflect on his beliefs.

In March, Mr Furlong declined an invitation from his bishop, the Most Reverend Richard Clarke of the diocese of Meath and Kildare, to resign.

He once served as a curate at St Mark's Church in Dundela in east Belfast.

The rector said from a scientific perspective, everything that existed on earth had a limited life span.

Mr Furlong said he was aware these were very precious beliefs to many people and that he was betraying the central message of Christianity.

He said his thoughts were ones he had held for 30 years.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Europe
Bishop suspends 'doubting cleric'
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