An Anglican priest says the Church of England should speak out, "firmly and officially," in a statement endorsing he freedom of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, to marry the woman of his choice and stressing that the bride's religion should not be a factor.

The Rev. Peter Cornwell, vicar of St. Mary the Virgin Church here, says that "upholding human rights is a more important Christian concern than the status of the established church."

His remarks were made in his parish newsletter. It was issued when many newspaper articles noted that Prince Charles' name has been linked romantically with Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg, a Roman Catholic.

Many articles have held that the couple could not marry even if they wish to because the British monarch is supreme governor of the Church of England and, under law, cannot marry a Catholic.

Cornwell, often described as an advocate of disestablishment, the breaking of Anglican Church-British government ties, added:

"To raise this issue is not to go chasing after the speculations of newspaper gossip writers, but to affirm a basic value and to seek the repeal of legislation which is deeply offensive to many of our fellow Christians.

"If there are residual anxieties about where this might place the special role of the monarch in the Church of England, then let these anxieties be quelled by the recognition that upholding human rights is a more important Christian concern than the status of the established Church."