Gay Anglican clergyman appointed to senior Church of England post
April 19 2004 11:00 PM ET
A gay clergyman who declined a bishop's post after an outcry from Anglican conservatives has been appointed dean of an English cathedral, the British government said Monday.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said Queen Elizabeth II had approved Canon Jeffrey John as dean of St. Albans Cathedral, the shrine of England's first Christian martyr. The appointment was welcomed by some figures on both sides of the controversy over John's thwarted nomination to a bishopric last year.
John, a celibate gay clergyman, had been appointed bishop of Reading but withdrew in July after protests about his sexual orientation--even though his declared celibacy conformed to the church's teaching. John's nomination triggered protests from conservatives within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion, a controversy soon overshadowed by the confirmation in the United States of the Reverend V. Gene Robinson, who has a male partner, as bishop of New Hampshire.
The Right Reverend Richard Inwood, suffragan bishop of Bedford in St. Albans diocese, had signed an open letter opposing John's nomination as bishop. But on Thursday he welcomed John's commitment to mission and his reputation as a preacher and teacher. "Jeffrey John has made certain undertakings to the diocesan bishop on the [Church of England] bishops' statement, 'Issues in Human Sexuality.' This assures me that none of the issues that caused concern last summer to so many people, including myself, will arise," Inwood said.