c. 2011 Religion News Service

NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey — who famously announced he was “a gay American” when he resigned in 2004 — will not be ordained into the Episcopal Church priesthood in the near future.

McGreevey has completed a master of divinity degree and worked with prison inmates and drug-addicted teens, but was denied in his first bid to become an Episcopal priest, according to the New York Post.

The Post quoted anonymous sources who said church leaders had issues with McGreevey’s bitter divorce, not his homosexuality. McGreevey and his second wife, Dina Matos, endured a contentious and public divorce trial in 2008.

McGreevey, 53, declined to comment on the report. However, he did discuss his ongoing ministry at the Hudson County Correctional Facility, where he works with female inmates preparing for release.

“My work in prison ministry has been a blessing in my life and a source of joy,” said McGreevey, who earned a master of divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan last May. “It’s an opportunity to put to work the lessons I’ve learned in life, and in divinity school, bringing people closer to God in a period of great need.”

Nina Nicholson, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, would also not comment on the published report, saying it is not church policy to discuss an individual’s ordination process.

McGreevey, who lives with his partner, Mark O’Donnell, converted from Catholicism after he left office. He also works at Integrity House, a Newark nonprofit focused on drug addition and runaways. He said “the next chapter” of his life would focus on prison ministry and prison reform.

(Peggy McGlone writes for The Star-Ledger in Newark. Chris Megerian contributed to this report.)

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