Gay bishop should never been appointed, says Anglican group
The appointment of the bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain, above, was a ‘major error’, according to the conservative Anglican group Gafcon.
Chamberlain revealed he was gay and in relationship on Friday.
He was consecrated by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – who has said he knew about the bishop’s sexuality.
But according to the BBC, Gafcon, a group which includes conservative Anglicans around the world, said there had been an “element of secrecy” in his appointment.
A statement from Gafcon said Chamberlain’s sexuality would “exacerbate” divisions within the Church of England and the wider Anglican world.
There are aspects of this appointment which are a serious cause for concern for biblically orthodox Anglicans around the world, and therefore we believe that this appointment is a major error.
It said the “element of secrecy” in Bishop Chamberlain’s appointment gave the impression:
That it has been arranged with the aim of presenting the Church with a ‘fait accompli’, rather than engaging with possible opposition.
The statement was signed by the Most Reverend Peter Jensen, above, former archbishop of Sydney who is the group’s general secretary, and Canon Andy Lines, who is the chairman of Gafcon’s UK task force.
Bishop Chamberlain’s sexuality was disclosed in an interview with the Guardian, and it has been reported that he gave the interview because his private life was about to be exposed by a Sunday newspaper.
In an interview with BBC News Chamberlain said he understood the Church guidelines, which say gay clergy must remain celibate.
I never thought that I would be on the front page of a newspaper or indeed in the news in this way, because my sexuality is part of who I am, rather than the whole of who I am.
He also said he had been open about his sexuality prior to becoming a bishop.
Asked about those who were uncomfortable about his appointment as bishop, he said:
I very much understand and respect their feelings and convictions and I hope that we are all part of God’s people together.
His appointment as bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the Church in the Diocese of Lincoln. He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.
The Gafcon statement also took the opportunity to criticise the church’s outlook on same-sex relationships.
We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and bishops, permitting them to be in same-sex relationships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual.
This creates confusion in terms of the Church’s teaching on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live, given the reality of our humanity, and temptation to sexual sin.
But Susie Leafe, the chairwoman of the conservative evangelical group Reform, said she sympathised with Bishop Chamberlain for having been:
Hounded by the secular press and forced into making a statement. All human beings have a range of complex desires; who he is attracted to should not make any difference to his ability to do the job of a bishop.
It is thought no serving bishop has ever before gone public about their sexuality. But the former archbishop of York, Lord Hope, said in 1995 that his sexuality was a “grey area”.
The dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, withdrew from the selection process to become bishop of Reading in 2003 after an angry reaction from traditionalist Anglicans about his sexuality.
A Church of England spokesman said:
Nicholas has not misled anyone and has been open and truthful if asked. The matter is not secret, although it is private as is the case with all partnerships/relationships.
The Rev Sally Hitchiner, who is gay and runs the LGBT support group Diverse Church, told the BBC she was looking forward to the day that a bishop’s sexuality was not a news story.
He’s being very clear that he’s sticking within the Church of England guidelines and being celibate. Most of us in the Church do know about people who are gay in high office.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn