Church of England lifts ban on gay bishops

LONDON — The Church of England said Friday that it will allow gay men to become bishops, putting it closer to its sister Episcopal Church in the United States but at odds with many conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The House of Bishops put out a statement confirming that gay clergy in civil partnerships will be eligible for appointment as bishops, if they remain celibate. The announcement followed a working group’s review of Church of England rules governing civil partnerships.

In July 2011, the House of Bishops announced a review of a statement published six years earlier, which allowed for clergy to be in civil partnerships but effectively put a moratorium on gay bishops. After the review, the group of bishops decided that “clergy in civil partnerships and in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate,” the Rev. Graham Jones, bishop of Norwich, said in a statement Friday.

No immediate nomination of a gay bishop is planned, Jones said in a BBC interview.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean there will be an appointment of such a priest soon because everyone undergoes a very searching examination of their personal family circumstances and the level of public scrutiny of a bishop’s life is very high,” he said.

The move is seen by many as divisive, further alienating conservative Anglicans hostile to the appointment of gay clergy. In 2003, a gay bishop, Rev. John Jeffries, who had been appointed by the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury, was forced to step down from his appointment as bishop after protests from Anglican traditionalists.

That reversal came under Archbishop Rowan Williams, who led the church from 2002 until his retirement last month. As head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Williams also clashed with the Episcopal Church in the United States over its election of Mary Glasspool, who is openly gay, as a bishop of Los Angeles in 2009. At the time Williams said Glasspool’s election “raised very serious questions, not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.”

Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, has been named as Williams’ successor, although he has not formally taken office yet as archbishop of Canterbury.

While conservatives will be outraged by the move to seat gay bishops, progressives and many mainstream Anglicans are still angered by the failure of the recent annual Church of England Synod vote to pass a motion allowing women to become bishops. New legislation on women bishops must now be redrafted by the House of Bishops and put before the Synod in the summer.

“Problems won’t go away,” Jones acknowledged, but “what we’ve concluded is that it would be unjust not to consider someone for the episcopate who was living faithfully according to the teaching of the church.”

The celibacy issue, he said, was “an assurance that the priest is in a civil partnership according to the teaching of the church. It isn’t to do with promises of celibacy or repentance for past relationships, it’s much more to do with loyalty to the Church’s teaching.”

More in Local News

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Jim Mathis, the Vietnam veteran whose Marysville garden was recently featured in The Herald, died Wednesday. Mathis, who suffered from PTSD and cancer, found solace in his beautiful garden. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Vietnam veteran Jim Mathis found peace in his garden

The Marysville man who served two tours died Wednesday after suffering from cancer and PTSD.

Smith Island habitat restoration cost to rise $1.2 million

The project is intended to increase survival rates for juvenile chinook salmon.

Add deputies and bump taxes a bit, executive proposes

Dave Somers’ Snohomish County budget proposal also would address traffic problems in neighborhoods.

County councilman proposes banning safe injection sites

Nate Nehring says county officials also should find “credible, long-term solutions to addiction.”

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

They chose the longshot candidate to fill a vacant seat

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick will serve as representative for the 39th legislative district.

Alien brain? No, a colony of harmless freshwater creatures

Bryozoans are tiny invertebrates that live in jelly-like masses, and their presence is a good thing.

Definitely not Christmas in July for parched young trees

“I live in Washington. I should not have to water a Christmas tree,” says one grower. But they did.

Most Read