Dutch priest allowed to retain formal relationship with woman

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - A Dutch Catholic priest has been allowed to retain a formal relationship with a woman after a deadline for an appeal against the union expired, Dutch media reported Wednesday. A Catholic court had previously ruled that Dutch priest Ruud Huysmans could not be held accountable for violating Church law when he had entered a "registered partnership" - a kind of legal cohabitation system in the Netherlands - in the year 2000, a year before a church ban on such partnerships took effect.

The appeal deadline for the ruling expired Wednesday.

In 2008, Rotterdam bishop Ad van Luyn had requested the Catholic court to disband the registered partnership which Huysmans had entered with female theologian Freda Droes.

Van Luyn also requested the Catholic court to remove the priest from his position if he refused to terminate the partnership.

But late 2008 the Catholic church ruled the priest "could not be held accountable for an apparent violation of the law" and Huysmans was not ordered to end his partnership.

Although Huysmans and Droes signed a registered a partnership, they do not live together, saying only that it offered them the best "formal arrangement" for their relationship.

In 2001, the Catholic church determined registered partnership was identical to marriage. It also ruled then that priests are prohibited from such a relationship.