Northern Ireland news

Presbyterian Church sacks professor for disagreeing with `doctrinal position of employer' over same-sex relationships

Prof Laurence Kirkpatrick was reportedly found guilty of `gross misconduct'

THE Presbyterian Church has sacked a professor from its theological college after 22 years service for publicly stating he would be "horrified" if a student "was taught that a same-sex, sexually active relationship was sinful".

Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick was found guilty of "gross misconduct" by a church disciplinary panel, according to the BBC.

He is a lecturer at Union Theological College, which was run by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland at Queen's University Belfast, where as well as training its own clergy provides undergraduate courses for the institution.

Queen's has since suspended links with the college, a circumstance the church has reportedly blamed on Prof Kirkpatrick.

The BBC said the letter informing the academic of its decision stated his comments "contributed significantly to a fracturing of the relationship between your employer and Queen's University Belfast".

He made the remarks on BBC Talkback in June 2018 while, the panel said, "knowing full well that was the doctrinal position of your employer".

The show was addressing the Presbyterian Church's decision to loosen its ties to the Church of Scotland over its more liberal attitude to same-sex relationships.

It found that his participation in the programme and remarks amounted to gross misconduct which left no alternative but dismissal.

The Presbyterian Church and Prof Kirkpatrick have declined to comment.

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