Published: 10:45, 29 March 2017
A retired Eastry vicar is calling on the Church of England to change its policy on same sex marriage as he prepares to wed a man 54 years his junior.
The Rev Philip Clements, 78, who grew up in Deal, will marry his fiancé Florin Marin, 24, in April.
Revealing the relationship on BBC South East Today last night, the former parish priest said he had repressed his sexuality throughout his career because of the church’s stance on homosexuality.
But admitting he “didn’t have much of his life left”, he’s now making the best of it.
He said: “It’s only when I retired from full time ministry that I decided I had to be my true self.
“I think it’s unnatural if you’re homosexual to keep denying it.”
In February 2014, the House of Bishops declared that clergy cannot enter same sex marriages. Civil partnerships are allowed but must remain celibate.
Mr Clements continued: “I came to the conclusion I must make my own mind about my own life.
“I haven’t got much left of it so I must make the best of what I’ve got.”
Speaking of the age gap, Mr Marin said: “My friends are very happy [for me]. They know my type is old people because they have more experience in life.”
The couple are now packing up and preparing for a new life together in Romania.
Mr Clements, a former Dover Grammar School pupil, worked at libraries in Deal and Sandwich before beginning his training for the Anglican ministry and was once the chaplain of St Bart’s Hospital, Sandwich.
Since his retirement in 1999 he has helped out in the churches and schools of Eastry, Tilmanstone and Northbourne.
He was appointed honorary chaplain at Northbourne Park School in 2012.
Mr Clements is a published poet. His titles include Poems of Youth published in 1987, Deal Pier in 2001 and Yesterday’s Children in 2010.
In 2007 he wrote his life story called Sweet and Bitter Fool.
Most recently in 2012, he published Cats and Cucumbers.