Welsh Anglicans unlikely to appoint gay man as bishop

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The leaders of the Anglican Church in Wales have played down suggestions that a prominent gay man could be selected as the next Bishop of Bangor.

While the names under consideration are secret, a spokeswoman for the Church in Wales said that the electoral college would be advised by the bishops in Wales to respect the “moratorium on the consecration of bishops in same-sex partnerships.”

The ban on new gay bishops was requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at the Lambeth Conference in August.

“The issue of homosexuality is one which is, sadly, threatening the unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion – of which the Church in Wales is a part – at the moment,” the Church spokeswoman said.

“In order to preserve that unity and prevent members leaving, the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for a moratorium on the consecration of bishops in same-sex partnerships to allow time for differences to be discussed and, hopefully, resolved.

“The bishops of the Church in Wales respect this request and will discuss it with the electoral colleges concerned during the coming months.”

The revelation that respected theologian Dr Jeffrey John is being considered for the Bishop of Bangor vacancy has outraged traditionalists.

Dr John was forced to step down as Bishop of Reading in 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury after conservative Anglicans objected to the fact that he was in a gay relationship.

He is now Dean of St Albans.

He entered into a civil partnership with another Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Grant Holmes, in October 2006.

Under House of Bishops guidelines, clerics are allowed to enter into a civil partnership as long as they are not engaging in sexual relations.

However, since the election of an openly gay man as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, the worldwide Anglican communion has been bitterly divided over the issue of gay clergy.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has repeatedly appealed for unity over the issue.

This summer a group of dissident Anglican leaders have formed their own group, GAFCON, in opposition to gay men or women taking holy orders and the blessing of same-sex partnerships.

More than 200 bishops boycotted the Lambeth Conference in August.

Held once every ten years, it is a meeting of the leaders of the Church from around the world.

Archbishop Williams said the Communion could tackle the issue of homosexuality in the Church and the “pieces are on the board” for a settlement.

In a sermon on the final day of the Conference in Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams said: “In these days together we have not overcome our problems or reinvented our structures: that will still take time.”

But despite there still being “many questions” on the issue, a Covenant to bind the Communion together is needed, he said: “We may not have put an end to all our problems – but the pieces are on the board.”

Despite today’s statement from the Church in Wales, its Archbishop has previously indicated that he supports gay clergy.

In July Barry Morgan said that if his bishops chose to consecrate a gay man as a priest he would back them.

“It would be my job to say ‘you have to vote according to your conscience, but I’m duty bound to tell you that it will have repercussions as far as the wider Anglican communion is concerned,'” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“If they said they want to do that well so be it. If a priest had a partner and someone nominated them that wouldn’t be a bar to them becoming a bishop.”