LONDON – The Church of England said Friday that it will allow gay men to become bishops, putting it closer to its sister Episcopal Church in the United States but at odds with many conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The House of Bishops put out a statement confirming that gay clergy in civil partnerships will be eligible for appointment as bishops, if they remain celibate. The announcement followed a working group’s review of Church of England rules governing civil partnerships.
In July 2011, the House of Bishops announced a review of a statement published six years earlier, which allowed for clergy to be in civil partnerships but effectively put a moratorium on gay bishops. After the review, the group of bishops decided that “clergy in civil partnerships and in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate,” the Rev. Graham Jones, bishop of Norwich, said in a statement Friday.
While conservatives will be outraged by the move to seat gay bishops, progressives and many mainstream Anglicans are still angered by the failure of the recent annual Church of England Synod vote to pass a motion allowing women to become bishops. New legislation on female bishops must now be redrafted by the House of Bishops and put before the Synod in the summer.