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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
'Gay rights' bishop defended
The Bishop of Oxford
The Bishop of Oxford has defended the appointment
The Church of England has defended a prominent supporter of gay rights on his appointment as Bishop of Reading.

Canon Jeffrey John, Chancellor and Canon Theologian at Southwark Cathedral, is a man of "exceptional gifts", the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Richard Harries said.

He said: "I am delighted that Jeffrey has accepted this nomination.

"He brings exceptional gifts in evangelism and teaching, and is widely respected in the Diocese of Southwark for his biblically based training.

"It would be quite wrong to exclude him because he takes a particular view on what still remains an open question in the Church of England.

Church divided

"He has given both public and personal assurances that he will uphold the present teaching of the church on sexuality."

Canon John, who last year contributed to a book of prayers for homosexual Christians, has argued in favour of the Church accepting permanent, faithful same-sex relationships.

Traditional Church teaching also states that practising gays should not be ordained as clergy.

But the Reverend David Phillips, general secretary of the Church Society, one of the Church of England's evangelical groups, said the appointment would hasten the collapse of the Church of England.

He said: "This is typical of other recent appointments - of men who do not uphold Biblical teaching - and will consequently hasten the collapse and division of the Anglican Church along the same lines as what is happening in north America.

"The Church of England needs bishops who are faithful to Biblical teaching and who have a track record of building up congregations."

Oxford bishop says 'no war'
16 Feb 03  |  England
Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
07 Jul 02  |  Breakfast with Frost

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