Williams Backs Gay Bishop

( [email protected] ) Jun 26, 2003 01:23 PM EDT

Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the 70-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, made his first public statement on the 23rd of June, regarding the appointment of the first openly gay bishop in the church.

A text form of the letter that Dr. Williams had written to the 116 bishops of England was read briefly to the media. The archbishop made it clear that he would not intervene into this matter. "It is not for me to recount the diocesan process," he said.

The recent selection of Canon Jeffrey John, a homosexual to become the Bishop of Reading by the Rev. Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, has caused commotion in the liberal and conservative wings of the Anglican Church. A possible schism is expected if the consecration is carried out, including division from evangelicals in Africa and Sydney.

Whereas the evangelical wings threaten to divide the worldwide Anglican communion, Dr. Williams gave a plea for tolerance and reflection among his fellow leaders, claiming in his letter that the appointment did not weaken the church's policy that, while sexual partnerships between lay gays may be acceptable, gay clergy must remain celibate.

"It does us no harm to think about our own priorities... and perhaps to learn in some matters to give each other a little more time and space for thought - not falling over ourselves because of anxiety and suspicion," the letter said.