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News – Gay priest as bishop?

October 2008

Gay priest as bishop?


Dr Jeffery John, the present the Dean of St Albans, has been revealed as a possible candidate for the position of Bishop of Bangor, following the death of Bishop Tony Crockett. If appointed Dr John, 55, will become Britain’s first openly gay diocesan bishop.

     Archbishop Rowan Williams forced Dr John to stand down after he was nominated as Bishop of Reading in the Oxford diocese in 2003, in the face of a conservative backlash against his appointment. However, Dr Williams’ own views on homosexuality are said to have been influenced by Dr John’s writings.

     Despite his civil partnership with the Rev. Grant Holmes in August 2006, Dr John claims to be celibate. Nevertheless, conservatives oppose his elevation because he has written persuasively in support of a new ‘scriptural’ understanding of homosexuality.

     At least one clergyman has threatened to resign rather than work alongside Dr John if appointed. Canon Peter Jones, Vicar of Conwy in the diocese of Bangor, hinted the appointment of Dr John would lead many others to walk away from the Church in Wales.




He said he would consider his position should the Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John, become the new bishop, because he believes homosexual acts are ‘sinful and wrong’.

     Mr Jones, who is canon treasurer of Bangor Cathedral, said: ‘I would be strongly opposed to the appointment. Jeffrey John is a strong advocate of changing the church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality and I accept the teaching of Holy Scripture that homosexual acts are wrong. Therefore to have someone deliberately seek to undermine that teaching – that is clearly not someone who is suitable to hold office as a bishop in the church of God’.

     The formal election for the position will take place in October in Bangor. Nominations are confidential and voting rests with around 40 members of an electoral college. Dr John would only become bishop if a two-thirds majority of the college agreed. Dr John was put forward as Bishop of Monmouth four years ago, but did not secure enough votes for a two-thirds majority.

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