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article imageGay bishops should lie about their sexual activites, says priest

By Andrew John     Jan 7, 2013 in Lifestyle
A noted UK Christian thinks gay bishops – now to be allowed to take office in the Church of England – ought to lie about whether or not they will remain celibate.
Giles Fraser, formerly canon chancellor at St Paul’s Cathedral, has long supported the right of gay people to become priests. But it’s an issue that has divided the worldwide Anglican Communion for years.
Writing in the Guardian’s online “Comment is Free” feature, Fraser – now the parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington, in London – says gay bishops will have a “moral responsibility” to lie about their sexual activities.
He’s referring to the House of Bishops’ approval of plans to allow gay men to become bishops provided they remain celibate.
Fraser begins his piece with a question: “So, bishop, are you having sex with your partner?” and then adds: “I can’t imagine anyone asking that question with a straight face. And what constitutes sex anyway? Snogging? Toe-sucking? (Is there a Church of England position on this?)”
The new line from the House of Bishops – the part of the General Synod responsible for church teaching – “ludicrously” stipulates that even men in civil partnerships will have to remain celibate if they are chosen for episcopal office.
That is the current situation with gay priests in the C of E.
Fraser (48) says the situation prompts the question, “How on earth will the authorities ever find out?” and he asks: “A CCTV in every bedroom? Chastity belts in fetching liturgical colours?
“No, the only way the bedroom police could ever really know is if they ask and play a moral guilt trip about honesty on those being interrogated.
“So do sexually active gay priests or bishops have a moral responsibility to tell the truth? Actually, I think not. I’d go further: in this situation, they have a moral responsibility to lie.”
He says lying is mostly morally wrong. But at times “we lie because we don’t trust another with the truth. Because we have good reason to believe that they will use it to hurt us or others. In the case of sexually active gay priests and bishops, this fear is wholly justified.”
Novelist and Telegraph contributor Jake Wallis Simons takes Fraser to task in his paper today, saying: “When a priest tells people to lie, you know there’s something wrong.”
But he’s not criticising Fraser for being in favour of gay bishops but of suggesting that they should be dishonest about their sexuality.
“Whatever your position on gay bishops,” he writes, “Mr Fraser’s advice is a manifestation of that form of cowardice that is an accessory to injustice. If he truly believes that actively gay people should be bishops, then advocating the creation of a clandestine shadow-community will do little to further their cause.
“If the black community in segregated America had kept to themselves their belief that all races should be treated equally, would things ever have changed?”
Simons then quotes the American activist, priest and civil-rights leader Martin Luther King:
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
Simons goes on: “If gay people within the clergy take on board Fraser's lily-livered advice, the debate will be deprived of its brio, and the question will never be resolved one way or another.”
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