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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Gay cleric's 'wedding' to partner
Canon Jeffrey John
The Dean is the clergy's most senior member to tie the knot
A gay cleric who is an avowed celibate has "married" his partner of 30 years.

The Very Revd Jeffrey John, 53, Dean of St Albans, and Rev Grant Holmes, 52, a hospital chaplain, entered into a civil partnership last week.

He is the most senior member of the clergy to take advantage of the laws with his congregation applauding when it was announced on Sunday.

Church of England clergy may enter into gay marriage if they assure their bishop they are to remain celibate.

Congregation applauded

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, said in a statement:

"Jeffrey John and his partner, along with many thousands of others, have chosen to enter into civil partnerships.

"I believe that civil partnerships confer proper, basic, legal human rights and are a matter of justice reflecting a society of difference and change.

"There are some who will consider it inappropriate for a priest to enter into a civil partnership.

"However, Jeffrey John has confirmed to me that the nature of his relationship remains in accord with the declarations he made in 2004 upon his appointment as Dean of St Albans, and therefore complies with the discipline of the Church of England as set out in the Bishops' Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships 2005."

A cathedral congregation of about 300 broke into applause when it was announced on Sunday.

Rev Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, welcomed the dean's partnership.

He said: "It is a delightful occasion for them both but I am even more pleased that the congregation reacted so warmly and arranged a reception after the main service to toast their good health."

The Rev Rod Thomas, spokesman for evangelical group Reform, said: "It is something that will only serve to deepen the crisis that the Church of England faces over the whole issue of human sexuality."

Dr John was persuaded to stand down from the post of Bishop of Reading after protests from conservative evangelicals in July 2003.

There was further furore when he was appointed to the senior post at St Albans in April 2004.

Gay bishop takes up post
08 Mar 04 |  Americas

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