Anglican head okay with gay bishops

September 25, 2010 12:00 am

, LONDON, Sep 25 – Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the world\’s Anglicans, has "no problem" with gay bishops, he told The Times newspaper in an interview on Saturday.

But Williams also indicated that he could not endorse bishops in active gay relationships because of the "standards" that required them to be celibate.

"To put it simply, there\’s no problem about a gay person who\’s a bishop," the Anglican leader told the paper.

"It\’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that clergy are expected to observe. So there\’s always a question about the personal life of the clergy."

Williams added that he was "conscious" that the topic of homosexuality was "a wound in the whole ministry".

And he admitted that one of the worst parts of his tenure was in 2003, when celibate gay cleric Jeffrey John was forced to withdraw his candidacy as Bishop of Reading.

The Archbishop confessed that he let down John, according to The Times newspaper.

John is openly gay and entered a civil partnership in 2006 but lives a celibate life.

He withdrew his candidacy in 2003 to avert a rift between conservative and liberal factions within the Church of England and was instead appointed Dean of St Albans.

Earlier this year a selection committee that included the Archbishop of Canterbury rejected John\’s ordination to become Bishop of Southwark.

The Archbishop\’s latest comments provoked a stern response from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell on Saturday.

"Rowan is not being consistent," Tatchell told The Times.

"On the one hand he says that he doesn\’t have a problem with gay bishops and on the other hand he blocked the appointment of celibate Jeffrey John."

Traditionalists had previously warned that John\’s appointment could damage the Church of England.

Williams, the 60-year-old spiritual leader of more than 70 million Anglicans worldwide, added Saturday that he will retire before his full term ends in 10 years. "I will not be doing this job when I\’m 70," he said.

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