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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 June, 2003, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Gay rights row 'reinforced' homophobia
The Bishop of Oxford
The bishop wants the church to support the gay community
Homophobia in the Church of England has been "reinforced" during the row over whether a gay rights supporter should be a bishop, a senior clergyman has said.

The Right Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, nominated Canon Jeffrey John, Chancellor and Canon Theologian at Southwark Cathedral, for the position of Bishop of Reading.

But both the Archbishop of the West Indies and the Primate of Nigeria have led growing calls for Canon John to quit over his position on gay rights.

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

Speaking to the Oxford Diocesan Synod meeting in High Wycombe, Bishop Harries said: "I believe that these cruel events should make us ask whether we as a church are pro-gay or anti-gay.

I want a diocese that is able to show everyone, including gay and lesbian people, that they are beloved of God
The Right Reverend Richard Harries
"Despite the apparently easy acceptance of gay and lesbian people in so called smart or arty circles there is a significant degree of homophobia in our society.

"Unfortunately, whatever the intention, what is happening now can only reinforce homophobic elements within society and within the church."

At the end of his speech, the Bishop Harries made a plea, saying: "I want a diocese which stands in support and solidarity with all harassed minorities whoever they are.

"I want a diocese that is able to show everyone, including gay and lesbian people, that they are beloved of God."

'Gay rights' bishop defended
21 May 03  |  Oxfordshire
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16 Feb 03  |  England
Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
07 Jul 02  |  Breakfast with Frost

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