The Church of England has announced it will be launching a review into its policy on ordaining gay bishops and its position on same-sex relationships.
The decision to reject Jeffrey John as bishop of Southwark triggered the move. John, who is currently Dean of St Albans, was refused ordainment on the grounds of his sexuality and because he is in a civil partnership.
Since 2005 the church has permitted gay clergy to have same sex unions on the condition they remained celibate. John obeyed, but his case exposes discrepancies in the policy for bishops.
Following John’s rebuttal lawyers advised the Church not to discriminate against celibate gay clergy when they are being considered for ordainment.
As reported by the Telegraph, Graham James, representing the House of Bishops on behalf of the Church of England said ““The last substantive engagement on the issue of homosexuality was in 2005”
“Contrary to popular perception, the House of Bishops has spent very little time in recent years discussing homosexuality. The House has now agreed the time has come to commission two new pieces of work” he added.
While liberals are happy about the decision, the group Accepting Evangelicals are calling for gay bishops to be ordained while the review is being put together.
Rev. Benny Hazlehurst, from the group, told The Guardian “While we welcome the announcement of a new initiative to think again about the church’s teaching on same-sex relationships, we deplore the increasing discrimination against gay and lesbian clergy who have subjected themselves to the church’s teaching and discipline”
“Clergy in civil partnerships in the Church of England have already made huge sacrifices to continue in ministry. They have to commit themselves to a non-sexual relationship and affirm that they will abide by the teaching of the church. As such there are no grounds on which they should be excluded from senior posts.”
The review’s findings are due to be published next year; gay bishops will be refused ordainment until then.