Jeffrey John withdraws acceptance of bishopric in Church of England
After weeks of debate over whether he should be made the Church of England's Bishop of Reading, Jeffrey John yesterday withdrew his acceptance of the post.

The canon theologian at London's Southwark Cathedral, John says he has been in a homosexual relationship for 27 years, but that the relationship became celibate when the Church of England reiterated its teachings on sexuality in 1997.

Still, his vow to work toward changing the church's sexuality doctrines to include committed homosexual relationships raised hackles from conservative Anglicans both inside and outside the U.K. Several Anglican churches, including the Church of Nigeria (the largest Anglican community in the world) threatened to break off their relationship with the Church of England if John was confirmed as bishop.

"It has become clear to me … the damage my consecration might cause to the unity of the Church, including the Anglican Communion," John said in his letter to Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries, who nominated him for the position.

"I much respect your decision, made in the interest of wider Church unity," Harries replied. "However, I would like you to know that not only did you have my unswerving support, but also that of a great many others in the diocese."

"The announcement must give us all pause for thought," said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion worldwide.

We have to grasp that Canon John's appointment has brought to light a good deal of unhappiness among people who could by no means be described as extremists, many of whom have willingly testified to their personal respect for Canon John. … Such unhappiness means that ...
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