Conservative parishes in the Church of England could seek alternative leadership from abroad if a gay man is appointed as bishop of Southwark, clerics warned today.
The argument over homosexual clergy in the Anglican communion was reignited at the weekend when it was disclosed that Dr Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, is among nominations for the post vacated earlier this year by the Right Rev Tom Butler. In 2003, John was forced to stand down from his appointment as suffragan bishop of Reading because of his sexuality after protests from traditionalists.
Reform, a conservative evangelical group, has warned the church could split if John, who is in a civil partnership but celibate, is made bishop for the south London diocese.
The Rev Paul Dawson said: "Our view is that it would be a very serious step if he were to become a bishop and it would cause very serious damage within the Church of England itself. We think that if this were to happen, then the sort of split that has happened in America would be precipitated here." Read more