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Heresy charge Irish priest quits

Heresy charge Irish priest quits

DUBLIN, Ireland -- An Irish priest who has repeatedly stated he does not believe Jesus Christ was the son of God has resigned.

The resignation of Reverend Andrew Furlong, 54, who was facing a church trial for heresy, was accepted by Church of Ireland Bishop Richard Clarke, church officials said on Wednesday.

Furlong has been unrepentant in the face of a furore sparked by his controversial views and has restated them repeatedly in e-mails sent to journalists and in articles published on the Internet, Reuters news agency said.

He repeated them again in an article for the new Irish Pages journal, to be published on Thursday, The Irish Times newspaper reported.

Furlong startled worshippers when his unconventional views on traditional Christian teachings were aired in articles published on his Web site.

"I don't believe the traditional understanding of Christmas, that God took human form and was born as a babe in Bethlehem," he told Reuters in an interview last December.

Furlong, 54, who was ordained in the Anglican Church of Ireland in the early 1970s, has said he has held his unorthodox beliefs for more than 30 years but had not shared them previously with his parishioners.

Furlong resigned two posts, as Dean of Clonmacnoise, northwest of Dublin, and as rector of Trim and Athboy, a quiet midlands parish.

A native of Dublin, he was hired to oversee Clonmacnoise five years ago. Church officials have declined to comment further.


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