The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has joined with other Christian organisations and individuals in calling for openness, transparency and integrity in the appointment of bishops within the Church of England.
The plea follows the recently leaked letter written by the late Colin Slee, former dean of Southwark Cathedral, who exposed the turmoil in which the Church of England leadership found itself in trying to block the appointment of openly gay priest Jeffrey John to the post of Bishop of Southwark.
Dr Slee, as well as writing a highly critical account of the behaviour of Archbishops Williams and Sentamu, revealed in his letter that there are a number of gay bishops who have been “less than honest” about their personal relationships, “who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions”.
The Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of LGCM, commented: “This latest revelations about the Church of England causes me grave concern and confirms the hypocrisy and institutional homophobia that led to the blocking of Jeffrey John to the bishopric. Furthermore it encourages a 'don't ask, don't tell' situation which will lead to a seriously compromised leadership and moral example.”
Since the leak of this memorandum, the Rev Colin Coward of Changing Attitude, which works for full Anglican inclusion, has suggested that to his knowledge there are 13 bishops who are gay, including 5 in the House of Bishops.
LGCM says it remains consistent in its conviction that loving, faithful and stable relationships among the clergy and laity are entirely consistent with Christian conviction and witness.
As an organisation LGCM supports the full acceptance of openly gay bishops and believes that sexual orientation should not be a bar to appointment to the bishopric.
While this is far from being the situation in the Church of England at present, LGCM is urging that the Church is at least consistent with the report Issues in Human Sexuality, and that it does not allow sexual orientation per se to be a reason to block promotion to the role of bishop.
Ms Ferguson added: “The situation is one of sheer hypocrisy. The decision to block Canon John was not based upon the Church's own position, but was simply one of bigotry and discrimination. Indeed the church's own lawyers have implied that barring a candidate on the basis of being open about sexual orientation is illegal. The proposed interrogation of candidates who are suspected of being gay not only further extends this blatant discrimination but will likely also encourage some of those being considered for promotion to compromise their integrity thus doing immense damage to such candidates, and those to whom they minister.”