The Church of England has lifted the ban on gay clergymen to become bishops in civil partnerships if they agree to remain celibate.
Even after rejecting proposals to allow women bishops, the current ruling means homosexual men can be appointed as long as they remain pure and repent upon any of their past sexual acts.
This shift in church policy is welcomed as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, Gene Robinson retires from his prominent position in the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire in the United States on Saturday.
The new ruling has reopened the bitter divisions between the liberal and conservative wings of the Church of England on the issue of gay priests.
Human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell has welcomed the new move towards “greater equality” within the Church but disapproved the condition of their appointment only if they remain celibate and said: “The Church should welcome love, fidelity and commitment, regardless of whether its bishops are heterosexual or homosexual.”
Director of the Changing Attitude group that campaigns for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Church, Rev Colin Coward has told: “I think the Church has issued a statement which will be laughed at by the majority in this country. I think it is unenforceable and I think it is totally inappropriate.”
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