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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Bishop defends open letter
The Bishop of Oxford
The Bishop of Oxford: "Saddened"
The Bishop of Exeter has been defending himself following his criticism of the decision to appoint a gay rights supporter as the Bishop of Reading.

The row began when the Bishop of Oxford nominated Canon Jeffrey John, Chancellor and Canon Theologian at Southwark Cathedral, for the Reading post.

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, along with a group of eight other bishops, wrote a joint letter criticising the appointment.

The letter has provoked an angry reaction from the lesbian and gay Christian community in Devon.

The Intercom Trust, and the Devon Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, say they are "disappointed" by their bishop's comments.

They have suggested that his arguments will inflame religious prejudice against lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Bishop Langrish was upset by the appointment of Dr John as the Bishop of Reading.

Church divided

"The proper place for sexual relationships is within marriage," he said in a statement.

"That remains the Church's position".

Other signatories to the open letter in The Times included the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Reverend Graham Dow, the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, and the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

A statement issued by Bishop Harries said: "I am saddened that the well organised public campaign against Canon Jeffrey John's appointment has now been joined by senior bishops.

"Given that a number of diocesan bishops have assured me of their support for this appointment, it is hard to see what effect this letter can have apart from highlighting the fact that the whole Church is divided on this issue."

Bishop fuels gay row in church
18 Jun 03  |  Berkshire
Bishops criticise gay rights appointment
17 Jun 03  |  Oxfordshire
Gay rights row 'reinforced' homophobia
08 Jun 03  |  Oxfordshire
'Gay rights' bishop defended
21 May 03  |  Oxfordshire
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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