A MARRIED priest who told his parishioners that marriage should
be "promoted and honoured" has been suspended for five years after
admitting having an affair with one of his congregation.
The Revd Martin Howard, who is married and has children, also
resigned from his post as Team Rector of Hampreston, in Dorset.
Mr Howard attracted publicity last year during the debate on
same-sex marriage, when he put up a sign outside St Mary's,
Ferndown, near Bournemouth, with the message: "Marriage = 1 Man + 1
Woman". He said that "society is much stronger when marriage is
promoted, honoured, and protected."
He also said: "Changing the law would leave clergy like me open
to charges of discrimination if I refused on principle to take a
same-sex wedding. Is that really the tolerant society we want to
create? In displaying our poster, we hope marriage as we have
received it will be maintained."
The diocese of Salisbury launched an inquiry after receiving a
complaint about the relationship, and Mr Howard admitted what had
happened. In a statement, the diocese said: "A complaint of
adultery had been made under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure, which
has been upheld.
"The Reverend Martin Howard has resigned his post as Team Rector
of the Hampreston Benefice with immediate effect. A penalty has
been imposed with Martin Howard's consent that he be prohibited
from ministry for five years."