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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 December, 2004, 14:15 GMT
Gay cleric attacks bullying
By Robert Pigott
BBC religious affairs correspondent

Jeffrey John
Dr John gave up the post of Bishop of Reading in summer 2003
Jeffrey John, the gay Anglican cleric who last year was forced to step down as Bishop of Reading, has used a Christmas sermon to accuse the Church of failing to stand up to bullies.

Dr John chose the theme of martyrdom to highlight bad situations where people failed to face down bullying.

Speaking during Sunday worship, he compared the problem with a former school class-mate who had been bullied at school because he was "weedy" and "effeminate".

"He was beaten up, he got his lunch thrown away and he got called girl's names and he always sat on his own. I can hardly think of the misery that kid must have gone through, " Dr John said in his sermon, which was broadcast on Radio 4.

We know what's happening is wrong, but we keep our heads down, and hope someone else will do the martyr bit and face down the bullies with the truth
Dr Jeffrey John

"I never said or did a thing to help him because, of course, I was terrified that if I did they would suspect me too and I would get the same treatment.

"And of course that's how it works, in so many bad situations in the world - and yes, in the Church too.

"We know what's happening is wrong, but we keep our heads down, and hope someone else will do the martyr bit and face down the bullies with the truth."

Dr John withdrew his acceptance of the post of suffragan Bishop of Reading in summer 2003 after a storm of protest from conservatives in the Church of England.

He reluctantly gave up the position when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said it was necessary to preserve church unity.

Shortly after Dr John stepped down, the American Anglican church defied worldwide opposition and appointed the gay cleric Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Despite some protests from certain sections of the Anglican community, Dr John was eventually appointed Dean of St Albans in July 2004.




SEE ALSO:
Parish protests over gay cleric
05 Jun 04 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts


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