Church of England drops gay bishop opposition

The Church of England has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.

The announcement, from the Church’s House of Bishops, would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate.

Conservative evangelical Anglicans say they will fight the move in the Church’s ruling general synod.

The issue has split the church since 2003 amid a row over gay cleric Jeffrey John becoming Bishop of Reading.

Mr John, now Dean of St Albans, was forced to step down from the role after protests from traditionalists.

He was also a candidate for Bishop of Southwark in 2010 but was rejected. Evidence emerged that this was because of his sexual orientation.

Evangelicals have warned they would be willing to bring in bishops from overseas to avoid serving under a gay bishop.

The Church has already agreed to allow people in civil partnerships to become clergy, provided they promised they would remain celibate, and repent for active homosexuality in the past.

In July last year, the House of Bishops said it would review this decision, made in 2005, to decide whether it could also relate to bishops.

In the list of decisions at its latest meeting in December, it has now confirmed that those conditions could now extend to bishops.

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