Church of England to allow gay clergy to become bishops

A decade after gay cleric Jeffrey John was forced to step down as a bishop by traditionalist Christians, the CoE have said they have evolved on allowing gay bishops

Church of England to allow gay clergy to become bishops
04 January 2013

The Church of England has dropped its ban on gay clergy becoming bishops.

This announcement, from the Church’s House of Bishops, would allow clergy in civil partnerships to become bishops if they promised to be celibate, the BBC reports.

In 2003, the issue split the church when gay cleric Jeffrey John, who has always maintained his celibacy, became a Bishop of Reading.

John, now Dean of St Albans, was forced to step down from the role after protests from traditionalists.

In 2010, he was a candidate for Bishop of Southwark but was rejected because of his sexual orientation.

Speaking to Gay Star News, The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement’s Reverend Sharon Ferguson said gay members of the clergy could become bishops before, as long as they remained celibate.

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams stopping gay clerics from becoming bishops proved it was only true in theory.

‘This is one of the things that we have always questioned, if a straight person has always maintained they are celibate no proof needs to be given,’ she said.

‘But when you are in a gay relationship, nobody believes you are celibate. It is clear discrimination.’

She said to be in a civil partnership, it does not need to be a sexual relationship. Consummation is part of marriage, not civil unions.

Ferguson added: ‘What the Church of England has said is nothing new. What we want them to do is take action and not bar clergy from taking up those offices through surreptitious means.’

Conservative religious people have said they are furious at the announcement, with some saying overseas clergy will not accept serving under a gay bishop.

Allowing gay clergy to become bishops will be seen as a big step for the Church of England, which is currently involved in an internal war over the government’s plans to legalize marriage equality.

The Church of England caused controversy last year when it revealed the synod would not allow a woman, lesbian or otherwise, to become a bishop.

UPDATE: The Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said:The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate.

‘There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task.

He continued: ‘The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline.

‘All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England.

‘But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case.’

UK-based charity Stonewall also commented on the announcement, with Director of Public Affairs Ruth Hunt saying: ‘We’re sure many Anglicans will be happy to hear of the Church’s latest epiphany on gay clergy, although many lesbians will be disappointed that they remain unable to serve as bishops.

‘I’m sure celibate gay men will be thrilled by this exciting new job opportunity, if perhaps somewhat perplexed as to how it will be policed by the Church.’ 

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Longtime Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak comes out on Twitter - as straight

Was TV personality was mocking gay coming out process by tweeting: 'I'm hereby proclaiming my heterosexuality!'
No thumbnail available

Gay Star News nominated for prestigious Stonewall award

We are delighted to announce GSN is in the final shortlist for the Publication of the Year award by Stonewall - Britain’s leading gay rights organization
No thumbnail available

US pundit says gays use Christmas to further gay agenda

American Family Association’s Sandy Rios claims the left plots to push vital legislation during the holiday season
No thumbnail available

Gay group’s office ransacked under cover of Madrid Gay Pride

Cash allotted for LGBTI fundraising efforts was stolen from the headquarters of the group responsible for Madrid Gay Pride
No thumbnail available

Los Angeles porn stars must wear condoms

City Council vote 9-1 in approval of law requiring condom use by porn peformers, gay and straight
No thumbnail available

Israel’s Education Minister says gay people shouldn’t try to call themselves couples or families

Minister of Education Shai Piron says it’s the right of a Jewish state to tell same-sex couples that they are not a family, though he supports them having some basic rights
No thumbnail available

EastEnders gay kiss character comes out to his dad

Amidst the Twitter storm that erupted when Danny Pennant (Gary Lucy) and Johnny Carter (Sam Strike) kissed, Carter will come out his dad tonight on the show
No thumbnail available

Gay couples could face prison time if they apply for a marriage license in Indiana

As Indiana lawmakers debate if to make gay marriage unconstitutional, they decide to levy harsh punishment for gay couples looking to be married
No thumbnail available

Wanda Sykes hired by Proctor & Gamble as spokeswoman for Gain detergent

Latest mainstream US company to choose a lesbian star to promote its product