First CofE vicar to marry same-sex partner has resigned

Andrew Foreshew-Cain, the first Church of England vicar to enter into a same-sex marriage, is resigning as a parish priest today.

Foreshew-Cain, a member of the Church's General Synod who is vicar of St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn and St James, West Hampstead, said in a letter to his parishioners reported by The Sunday Times that the CofE is 'institutionally homophobic'. He spoke of his relief at leaving because he and other gay and lesbian clergy were 'barely tolerated'.

Andrew Foreshew-Cain (right) and his husband Stephen.

He said the Church was 'an institutionally homophobic organisation that blindly denies its policies and practices are deliberately and harmfully discriminatory and wrong'.

'I am looking forward to no longer feeling that a significant part of me is...rejected by the organisation that I work for and have served faithfully,' he added.

He told The Sunday Times he believed the Church was 'almost at that point where the distance between what the leaders of the church are saying and what the people believe and do is unworkable.

'The Church of England is a national church. If it wishes to become a sect and draw up its own rules and not be part of the national life, it is perfectly at liberty to do that, but it can't continue to...claim a role in the national life if it is so at variance with the basic moral principles of the country.'

Foreshew-Cain's decision follows what was seen by many as a significant victory for Church of England liberals in February when the General Synod rejected a House of Bishops report on gay marriage that recommended the Church did not change its traditional opposition.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York subsequently called for a 'radical new Christian inclusion' in what was seen as an indication that the Church's position might be liberalised.