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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Gay cleric in line for senior job
Dr Jeffrey John
His new appointment may bring a mixed reception
The gay canon forced to stand down as Bishop of Reading is to be appointed Dean of St Albans.

The choice of Dr Jeffrey John to the senior Church of England post will cause more controversy across the Anglican Communion.

Traditionalists fear it will take the Church's break-up a step further following the ordination of gay bishop Gene Robinson in the US.

Downing Street is expected to make the announcement on Tuesday.

The previous Dean of St Albans, Reverend Christopher Lewis, moved to Christ Church, Oxford, last October.

Church unity

Dr John was to become the new Bishop of Reading until he withdrew his acceptance of the post last July.

His decision followed weeks of argument within the Anglican Church about whether or not he should be allowed to hold the position, because of his sexuality.

Dr John, who is in a celibate relationship with a man, said then that he made the decision because of the "damage" his consecration might have caused the "unity of the Church".

The BBC's religious affairs reporter Martha Doyle said: "The Communion is already on the verge of schism over homosexuality. This will do nothing to bring Church conservatives and liberals closer together."

"Liberals are overjoyed at what they see as a carefully crafted compromise which recognises Dr John's undisputed talents as a theologian.

"But the choice will anger traditionalists who are already furious over the appointment of a gay bishop in the United States and same-sex blessings in Canada.

"One group has described it as 'outrageous'."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had come in for harsh criticism in the debate over the Reading appointment.

He was accused of turning his back on clergy in the developing world after he said he had raised no objection to the appointment.

The Lambeth Commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury to resolve the crisis within the church is due to report at the end of this year.

Dr Jeffrey John
His new appointment may bring a mixed reception

Map of global Anglican Church membership

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