‘Sorrow’ after senior Church of Ireland cleric confirms civil partnership

Evangelicals in the Church of Ireland have expressed their “sorrow” after a senior minister confirmed he had entered into a civil partnership.

The Very Rev Tom Gordon is the Dean of Leighlin Cathedral in County Carlow.

He told BBC Northern Ireland radio on Sunday that the ceremony with his same-sex partner took place at a registry office in July.

He is the first Anglican clergyman in Ireland to enter into a civil partnership.

Dean Gordon told the BBC that diocesan Bishop Michael Burrows knew about his relationship and was told beforehand of the civil ceremony.

He said that he had received “warm support right across the board”.

Same-sex relationships have proved divisive in the worldwide Anglican Communion but the Church of Ireland does not have a formal position on civil partnerships.

Concerns have been raised over Dean Gordon’s civil partnership by the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine Ireland and Reform Ireland.

They warned that the splits and legal battles seen in churches in the US, Canada and Scotland may be repeated in the Church of Ireland.

“If the orthodox view of marriage and sexuality is allowed to be shattered by the actions of Dean Gordon and others then it is difficult to see how a respectful fellowship can be maintained,” they said.

“We fear Dean Gordon’s action will cause pain and grief within our Church and damage relationships with other Christian traditions in Ireland with whom we work closely at local as well as regional level.”