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Catholic priest vows to fight being fired for living with his girlfriend


An 81-year-old Catholic priest, expelled from the priesthood because he lives with his 85-year-old girlfriend, says he will take his case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary, Trouw reports on Tuesday.

Jan Peijnenburg, who has lived with his girlfriend for 46 years, was sent a letter at the weekend telling him he has been suspended because he refuses to leave his partner.

According to Trouw, the suspension will have little effect because Peijnenburg is retired and only rarely fulfills church duties.

Peijnenburg and his friends are now preparing legal action to find out ‘if the rights of the church conflict with the rights of the citizen,’ the NRC quotes him as saying.

Rik Torfts, a professor in religious rights, told Trouw Peijnenburg has little chance of success because freedom of religion laws have priority over the right to marriage.

A survey among Dutch priests last year showed four in 10 want to reopen the discussion on celibacy.

Although other priests are known to live with partners, Peijnenburg was very open about his position and published pamphlets calling for an end to celibacy rules.

‘We cannot allow him to do that which is forbidden to others,’ spokesman Michiel Savelsbergh told news agency AFP last month. [more]


Dutch News



  1. Phyllis Stacey says:

    I may be naive, but could they have both lived together celibately for 46 yrs.? If so, could their relationship have been sinless or have they sinned simply by living together because of his Holy Orders? Maybe they dressed separately and slept in separate beds. I know, hard to belive for 46 yrs. Can a man and woman show each other affection, such as hugging and kissing without being aroused, especially a priest?

  2. Tania says:

    What does the European Court have to do with this case? (Fr.) Peijnenburg made a decision long time ago (46 years at least). He should face the consequences of his acts and not blame others.

  3. Jim says:

    What’s there for the European Court to decide? Fr. Peijnenburg has made a decision to live in a way incompatible with living as a priest and the vows he took when he received Holy Orders.

    He has made a choice. Accept it, dear Father, and move on. You are certainly not a “victim” in any way. If you think you are, get over it.


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