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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 03:58 GMT 04:58 UK
Bishop's anguish over gay priest
Canon Jeffrey John
Dr John was persuaded to step down after furious debates
The Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, has said he was so dismayed at what he saw as the injustice to the homosexual clergyman he appointed as bishop of Reading, that he wanted to resign.

Dr Harries revealed that the archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams had already approved the candidacy of Canon Jeffrey John before it was made public.

But under pressure from traditionalists in the worldwide Anglican church Dr Williams then persuaded Canon John to step down in June.

There had been a huge controversy around plans for Canon John's appointment with conservative opponents lining up against him and bitterly attacking his candidacy.

But Dr Harries's comments suggest the decision still angers church liberals, and they are unwilling to let the issue go away.

Dr Harries said last month that the church had got it wrong about homosexuality and he is not afraid of showing the continuing disappointment felt by many liberal Anglicans at the way church leaders have dealt with the issue.

Right qualities

In the diocesan magazine the Door, Dr Harries said Jeffrey John had just the sort of qualities he was looking for in a bishop for Reading.

He said it had been wrong to discriminate against him simply because he was gay.

The bishop said: "That was and remains a profound issue of principle for me."

Canon John's name was put forward by the archbishop of Canterbury's appointments secretary and endorsed by Dr Williams.

In his article, Dr Harries said he was so disappointed at the treatment of Canon John that he almost stepped down too.

He decided not to only because it would have meant leaving Reading without a bishop for 18 months while his own successor was chosen.

Priest's treatment 'homophobic'
26 Jul 03  |  Berkshire


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