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article imageSecond snub for would-be UK bishop because he’s gay

By Andrew John     Jul 8, 2010 in Lifestyle
A clergyman in the UK has been passed over for a bishop’s post because he’s gay. It’s emerged that Jeffrey John’s rejection comes after secret talks among senior churchmen, who fear a further split in the Anglican Communion.
“Members of the Crown Nominations Commission, which includes Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, rejected calls for Dr Jeffrey John to be made the next Bishop of Southwark,” reports the Daily Telegraph.
John, the current Dean of St Alban’s, was forced to stand down from a post as Suffragan Bishop of Reading in 2003 because of his homosexuality. He had only just been offered the job.
He was in a longstanding relationship with another man, although he declared that the relationship – now a civil partnership – was no longer a sexual one.
Before he stood down from that post – following pressure from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams – he issued a personal statement in the Guardian, in which he said:
“My own view is that there is a sound argument from scripture and tradition in favour of Christians accepting same-sex relationships, provided they are based on a personal covenant of lifelong faithfulness …
“I am a homosexual. As I stated in my Post-Lambeth Reflections, I have been in the kind of covenant relationship I have described above since 1976, and will remain so. I regard this life partnership as a gift and vocation from God.
Outstanding candidate
“The relationship does not, however, involve sexual expression. It falls within the ‘gift of same-sex friendship ... of companionship and sexual abstinence’ in which the nine diocesan bishops who have publicly spoken against my appointment have said that they rejoice.”
The latest snub, says the Telegraph, will “infuriate liberal clergy who believed he was the outstanding candidate and that his appointment would signal a move towards greater inclusion for homosexuals in the Church.”
The report says Williams is reported “to have been furious at the pressure placed on him and the other members by a leak to the Sunday Telegraph, which revealed the dean was on the shortlist. He asked the rest of the Commission to swear an oath of secrecy about the talks.”
The talks that led to the snub – held in a secret location in Stepney – are understood to have been heated as Commission members debated whether John should be selected.
Some church insiders are cited by the Telegraph as saying that, in view of the 2003 debacle, John’s name would not even have been selected for the shortlist if there was never any intention that he should become a bishop.
The Rev. Paul Dawson of the conservative evangelical Reform group said: “It’s appropriate that he shouldn’t be a bishop until he publicly changes his mind about what he teaches.
“But this issue won’t go away, whether it’s Jeffrey John or someone else. We know that, and we will continue to encourage those electing bishops to choose those who are willing to uphold the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the Church of England.”
It won’t be known until the autumn who the next Bishop of Southwark will be. The name chosen by the Commission will eventually go to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and will then be approved as a matter of course by the Queen.
The row over gay bishops has threatened to split the Anglican Communion on both sides of the Atlantic, with Episcopalians in the US no longer able to serve on ecumenical bodies after the church elected a lesbian as a bishop in California.
As we reported in June, the row over homosexual clergy has continued to since Gene Robinson was elected a bishop in New Hampshire in 2003 and subsequently entered office in 2004.
Since then, the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool has been made an assistant bishop of Los Angeles, widening the divide between the liberals and conservatives.
More about Gay priest, Jeffrey john, Rowan williams, Church england, Anglican communion
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