Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain, the first married gay vicar of the Church of England has resigned from his parish claiming he was on a "black list" for having a same-sex spouse. A member of the General Synod, the priest said he would leave his church in north London and would not look for a new parish.
"I'm resigning my parishes and won't be a licensed minister anymore and, because I'm married to Stephen, it was made clear to me that I wouldn't get a licence for a new church," he said according to The Independent following his announcement on 30 April.
Foreshaw-Cain will step down from his post as vicar at St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn, and St James in West Hampstead, and move to Manchester where his husband Stephen works.
"In the normal run of things, I'd be looking for a parish up north but I can't have one because of the institutional homophobia of the Church of England," he said.
"I am sure lots of parishes would give me a job quite happily, but it is finding a bishop who would be willing to take the risk of licensing me to that parish. I am far too prominent."
The Church of England prohibits its clergy from getting into same-sex marriages but according to the 53-year-old, his union in 2015 was tolerated because he was with a London parish. Ahead of his final service at St Mary with All Souls in July, he told parishioners that he was now experiencing a sense of "relief" at his impending retirement.
"When we married I was told that if I left here then an active ministry officially in the Church of England would be over, and that is likely to be the case." He explained in a letter to his parish. "Whilst willing to allow me to continue here, [the Church] is unwilling to license me to a ministry elsewhere."
The reverend, who served the Church for 30 years, said the "institution was harmful to LGBT people", and he was looking forward to "not being responsible to an organisation which treats gay and lesbian people quite as badly as it does."
"I will carry on going to church. I will find a Christian community where I can worship and be part of and contribute and be welcome, he said. "I am not giving up on being a Christian. I am having my ability to function as a priest denied."
The diocese of London acknowledged that Foreshaw-Cain would be moving to Manchester but said it was yet to be formally informed of his decision to quit. "We understand that he has plans to move to Manchester for personal reasons but the diocese has not received his resignation at this time."