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Priest who had affair is suspended

30 May 2014

SHUTTERSTOCK

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."

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