Church of England Denies Gay Priest's Ordination

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The Church of England has decided not to ordain a gay priest as bishop.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was set to back the elevation of Rev. Jeffrey John to bishop. But a church committee decided Thursday, to reject John as a potential nominee.

The 57-year-old priest withdrew his appointment to bishop seven years ago after a heated controversy arose over his sexuality.

The latest move is significant in light of the church's recent sanctions on the U.S. Episcopal Church for electing the openly lesbian Rev. Mary Glasspool.

Some thought the church would see John as a more acceptable candidate than Glasspool since he has declared that he's celibate.

Opponents like Rev. Paul Dawson, media officer for the evangelical group Reform, noted that John defended same-sex relationships in one of his books entitled Permanent, Faithful, Stable.

"If you have a bishop who is effectively teaching what is against the Bible's clear teaching and what the Church of England says is its doctrinal position, if you have someone at the highest level saying this is a 'blessing,' this is a 'gift,' that raises all sorts of questions for the average churchgoer," Dawson said.

Rev. Colin Coward, director of the group Changing Attitude, supports John. Coward's group promotes the "full inclusion" of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgendered people in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

"This is painfully disappointing news for Jeffrey, who has lived through a week in which his identity and reputation have been pored over, analyzed and attacked once again by conservative forces in the church in a way which I can only describe as poisonous," Coward said.

Church officials have not commented on their decision.

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