Phillip Schofield is cheekily asked out by Reverend Richard Coles
Rev Coles, who was one half of pop duo the Communards during the Eighties before being ordained in 2005, is back on screens today as he joins guests on Love Your Weekend With Alan Titchmarsh. The 59-year-old will chat with gardener Alan, as well as fellow star Gary Wilmott, on what is a poignant day for Rev Coles – Easter Sunday. Rev Coles has had a long career in broadcasting, which began before his training at the College of the Resurrection.
But since being ordained, he has used his profile to help modernise religion.
He has been described as “the nation’s most pop-culture-friendly priest” and, as a gay man, has helped challenge stereotypes sometimes associated with Christianity.
Yet, Rev Coles has been outspoken on a number of issues linked with the church, and made clear his apparent frustration at the rule of celibacy for those in the priesthood.
Celibacy forbids a clergy to have sex outside heterosexual marriage, and has been a rule within the church for centuries.
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Reports show that alongside the usual Google search terms to go alongside his name, like Twitter, BBC or Radio 4, the word celibacy was also attached to Rev Coles.
He himself refused to discuss the matter in his books, and said that he didn’t want celibacy “to be the most eminent thing about me”, adding: “It’s not something that I think of as being that significant.”
Rev Coles is only celibate for pragmatic reasons, The Guardian noted, with the ex-popstar lashing out at the tradition.
He described it as “the Church of England’s completely ridiculous position, which I think is daft and probably wicked, and all but intolerable”.
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Richard Coles alongside his former bandmate
He continued: “I entered the priesthood thinking I was hors de combat… I did think that I would be on my own, and not looking to stop being on my own – and also not looking in lay-bys and bushes and so on… but then I met David.”
David was Rev Coles partner, and they entered a celibate relationship until the former passed away tragically in 2019.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2014, Rev Coles addressed the decision to become celibate, following his move into the priesthood.
Addressing claims that some don’t believe he is celibate, Rev Coles added: “All I can say is that it is actually the truth.
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“It hasn’t always been entirely 100 percent true in every way, but substantially true. Sex is not so important in lots of people’s lives as we think it might be, I would say.”
According to reports, Rev Coles admitted that in the aftermath of his partner’s death, he received hate mail due to the relationship, with some claiming David was “in hell”.
Discussing David’s death, Rev Coles – whose band had three top 10 hits, noted his partner’s battle with alcoholism, saying it was as though he was “being seized by a demon”.
Richard Coles stars on Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmars today
He told the BBC that “anyone who has loved an addict and lived with an addict will know how tough it is”, earlier this week.
The Northampton-based reverend said to David alcohol was “an anaesthetic for when life was tough and then it just kind of rampaged”.
He added: “People used to talk about the ‘demon drink’ which sounds like a rather melodramatic way to describe it, but it is like someone is seized by a demon and when David was at his worst he was really difficult and it was very tough.”
Love Your Weekend With Alan Titchmarsh airs today from 10am on ITV.