Heterosexual accepts bishop's post declined by gay appointee
January 07 2004 1:00 AM ET
The newly appointed bishop of Reading has called for the Church of England to "listen more" to gay people, according to a report on icBirmingham.co.uk. Canon Stephen Cottrell, 45, who will be consecrated in May, is to accept the post that was originally offered to an openly gay cleric, Canon Jeffrey John. Despite John's proclaimed celibacy, the resulting row over his appointment threatened to split the church, and he later withdrew his acceptance after a high-profile campaign by Church of England traditionalists. Meeting the press in Reading, Cottrell, a former canon pastor and vice dean of Peterborough Cathedral, called for more understanding of homosexuality in the church. Church leaders have denied claims that the appointment of Cottrell, a football-loving, married father of three, was based on his sexuality. Cottrell said he learned of his appointment only Saturday and that his colleagues had been told Tuesday, as "the church likes to shroud these things in great secrecy for some reason." His appointment was officially announced by 10 Downing Street and has been approved by the queen.
At a press conference Tuesday at Reading Minster of St. Mary the Virgin, Cottrell said he has feelings of trepidation and expectation about his new role. "Sitting here, I feel honored that the church has put its trust in me, but right now I feel daunted about what lies ahead but excited." He said he is a friend of Canon John's and had supported him but said he will be keeping to the church's official line on homosexuality and the appointment of bishops.