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Church of England lifts ban on gay bishops, as long as they remain celibate

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Church of England announced Friday it has lifted a ban that prohibited gay male clergy who live with their partners from becoming bishops, on the condition that they remain sexually abstinent.

The House of Bishops, one of the church’s most senior bodies, “confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate,” said Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich.

“The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline,” he added, in a statement on behalf of the House of Bishops.

The decision was made in late December but received little attention until the church confirmed it on Friday.

Groups representing gay Anglicans have welcomed the move but questioned a requirement that the new bishops will have to be celibate.

The Rev. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, a group that campaigns for the church to fully accept LGBT people, told The Guardian that he gave the news a guarded welcome, in that it was significant but unlikely to prompt a rush of gay bishops.

“I don’t trust what they have said. I don’t believe they are serious about opening the door to someone in a civil partnership becoming a bishop. I would only believe they are serious when it happens,” he said.

Conservative evangelicals have called the announcement “divisive.”

The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It has an estimated 26 million baptized members.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. Celibate????

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:07pm
  2. As soon as they leave the kids alone

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:10pm
  3. Celibate or CHASTE? Celibate just means not getting married…confusing

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:13pm
  4. Bishops are supposed to be celibate anyway so; where is the disconnect?

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:15pm
  5. Why do we need churches?? More and more people dumping them. While it is good for some. Most better off worshiping from home…if they chose to do it at all**

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:16pm
  6. I think celibacy requirements are dumb. How are you going to expect anyone to live from age 13 (when hormones first begin to rage) through decades until they are 70, 80, or 90, and *NEVER* get to enjoy the pleasures of sex? I think it much wiser to require that they be the husband or wife of one spouse, so that they have an outlet for sexual urges. They are, afterall, only human.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:26pm
  7. If they are not asking for the same celibacy of “partnered” heterosexuals, then this is still not just.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:28pm
  8. … BFD!!!

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:31pm
  9. Goddamn loopholes pretending to be just and tolerant.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:32pm
  10. No, but it seems like a little movement in the right direction.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:40pm
  11. This is similar to “allowing” gay or bisexual men to give blood; you can’t have had sex with another man for at least a year beforehand. Well, thanks you’ve really made it easy for us haven’t you…

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:41pm
  12. w.h.a.t.e.v.e.r.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:43pm
  13. this is another reason i will never join the church celebate my ass no one should have to live a life without ssex

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:45pm
  14. If this rule is just confined to gay people, and straight bishops can have sex then it is still discriminatory. Catholic priests are not allowed to have sexual relations-straight or gay.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:58pm
  15. sex it’s not a sin, it’s part of human nature!

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 4:06pm
  16. The celibacy doctrine is probably the primary contributing factor to the child molestation problem in the priesthood. Give them access to consensual relations with adults, you’ll PROBABLY have less kid-fucking. Just thinking out loud

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 4:08pm
  17. Ouch! You can live with your partner but have to be celibate…what’s that supposed to accomplish?

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 4:52pm
  18. Not good enough step into a recent century now please.

    Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 7:17am
  19. What? It gets sillier by the minute!

    Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 8:11am
  20. Where does this make any sense at all?

    Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 10:37am
  21. That seems kind of … non-inclusively inclusive. ‘You can be a gay bishop in a civil partnership … but you have to stop having gay relations with your partner…’

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 12:14pm