LONDON, January 4 (RIA Novosti) – The Church of England has lifted a ban on gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops.
The Church's House of Bishops announced Friday that those gay clergy members in civil partnerships who remain celibate can rise to the rope of bishop. The decision was taken in mid-December but surfaced in the Church Times newspaper only on Friday.
The Church has already allowed people in civil partnerships, introduced in 2005, to become clergy, provided that they would remain celibate and repent for active homosexuality in the past. The new development has extended the rules to bishops. Single gay bishops must also be celibate.
“There technically has never been a ban on gay bishops, what there was an issue was bishops in civil partnerships,” a Church of England spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk web site.
The issue has been debated by the Church since 2003, when gay cleric Jeffrey John was forced to step down as Bishop of Reading. John is now Dean of St Albans.