The Daily Telegraph ran a story this week under the headline “One in 10 Church of England bishops 'could be secretly gay' -- says bishop” that suggests the term means an individual who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex and who acts upon those attractions. Yet in the context of the story it could just as well mean an individual who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex but who lives a celibate life.
Temptation is not sin, the Church of England teaches. It is immoral to act upon homosexual desire, but the desire itself is not immoral.
That point escapes theTelegraph, which reports that in a forthcoming book the Bishop of Buckingham Dr. Alan Wilson charges his episcopal colleagues with hypocrisy for opposing same-sex marriage even though a dozen of them are “gay.”
The article quotes him as saying:
By 2014 there were said to be a dozen or so gay bishops. By definition, these men are outstanding priests who have managed to navigate the complexities of a structurally homophobic institution well enough to become its iconic representatives. They may well have a bigger investment than others in keeping the closet door tightly shut.
The bishop also lambasts his colleagues for not agreeing with his private interpretation of scripture, church tradition, and natural law.
He rejects outright the idea that the Bible forbids gay marriage insisting that the Church’s official teaching is largely based on “our grandparents’ cultural dictates” rather than the teaching of Jesus.
Strong quotes from a bishop -- but is it really news?
The charge that there are closeted gay bishops in the Church of England is not new. The Daily Beast ran a piece on a London clergyman, the Rev. Andrew Cain, who had married his same sex partner in April. It stated:
… Cain estimated that a third of the clergy in London are gay. A clergyman, who did not wish to be named, claimed that at least 13 of the church’s 42 bishops were also gay, although they have not publicly acknowledged it. “Gay people have very often a heightened sensitivity to things of beauty and spirituality,” Cain suggested. “There are an awful lot of gay people in the church.”
Changing Attitude, a gay advocacy group within the Church of England, has also raised this issue over the years, while in 1995 the gay rights group Outrage! outed 10 Church of England bishops whom it claimed were gay, and demonstrators disrupted the consecration service of one of the 10, the Bishop of Durham, after he refused to come out of the closet.
Continue reading "Outing Britain's gay bishops" by George Conger.