The story, reported in local newspaper Presse-Océan, was confirmed by the diocese of Nantes, which said in a statement that “the choice of this priest to live with a companion challenges the vow of celibacy he took.”
Father Rémi Bouriaud, who worked in the small coastal villages of La Baule and Pornichet, told the newspaper his relationship made him “happy” and confirmed that he and his partner had lived as a couple for more than ten years. He said he had not hidden the relationship from church bosses.
He said he “regretted nothing” and wished the church would “modernize and open up.” Meanwhile, he said he has received over 200 messages of support.
“It is with sadness that [bishop] Monsignor Jean-Paul James has had to make this decision,” said the church statement. “It takes into account both the dedication of this priest for many years as well as the challenge of this difficult situation.”
Opposition to the rule of celibacy for priests in the Catholic church has been growing in recent years. In April, the number two in the Vatican, cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, appeared to offer the possibility of a change at some point when he recognized that the celibacy of priests was not “untouchable” but he also stated that it is a “positive and fruitful tradition” for the church.