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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 11:46 GMT
Gay vicar flouts partnership rule
Malcom Macourt (left) and Rev Christopher Wardale
Mr Macourt (left) and Rev Christopher Wardale in Newcastle
An openly gay vicar faces disciplinary action after taking part in a civil partnership ceremony with another man.

The Rev Christopher Wardale, 59, from Darlington, and retired Northumbria University lecturer Malcolm Macourt, 58, exchanged vows in Newcastle.

A service of celebration was held at a city church, where the former Bishop of Durham, Rev David Jenkins, preached.

The present Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Tom Wright, warned clergy they could face action for taking part.

Wednesday saw the first same-sex ceremonies take place in England and Wales.

I fully understand that some people feel bound in conscience to disobey the clear and official teaching of the Church on these matters
Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright

The couple have waited 21 years for such a moment and are urging others to share their joy.

Mr Macourt, from Gosforth, Newcastle, said: "It's very important to us to do this and I hope others feel they're able to do it too.

"People want to make a commitment to each other with rights and responsibilities and it's about time the state recognises and supports that.

"It's been that way when men and women get married for hundreds of years."

In a letter to clergy, Bishop Wright said: "I shall be very sorry if members of the clergy, by holding services of blessing or near equivalent, force me to make disciplinary enquiries.

"If clergy decide to enter a civil partnership they are thereby putting me in a new situation in which my own integrity as diocesan bishop, and my collegial position within the House of Bishops, strongly suggest that I should follow the process thus recommended.

"I fully understand that some people feel bound in conscience to disobey the clear and official teaching of the Church on these matters."

Mr Wardale, vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Darlington, Co Durham, met Mr Macourt when he worked on South Tyneside in 1984.




SEE ALSO:
Priest set to wed in gay marriage
24 May 05 |  Southern Counties


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