Bishop of London outlines gay policy to Reform

The Times

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London has been reported, according to the Sunday times, as warning his gay clergy to end homosexual relationships or face disciplinary action. He is said to have outlined the new policy at two recent meetings with conservative evangelical clergy in London Diocese. He told them he would act to “uphold the discipline of the church” and revealed that he had already removed a gay priest from his post.

Bishop Chartres confirmed he had told the evangelical meetings that he would take action but declined to specify what he planned. “We are upholding the positive teaching of the church,” he said. “The two (possibilities) that are available to the clergy are lifelong heterosexual marriage and the single state. I am upholding the official teaching of the church but will not start witch hunts.” He added that he would handle the issue sensitively. “I do it pastorally in a way that does not contribute to a sense of inquisition,” he said.

Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said the bishop might now be forced to take action against some of the most senior clergy in the capital. “Perhaps the bishop should start with his own senior staff and colleagues since there are gay archdeacons in the diocese of London, not all of whom are known to be celibate,” he said.

This is a reaction to the campaign by certain evangelical Anglican groups against the appointment of Dr Rowan Williams as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Some clergy have threatened to withdraw cash contributions and say they may look to bishops from overseas for alternative leadership. A few want Dr Williams to resign from his new post.

The Sunday Times proclaimed that Richard Chartres leads a diocese in which the proportion of gay priests is estimated at 30%- 40%, the highest in the Church of England. Many live with their companions, often describing them as “lodgers”. The paper headlined the article ” Bishop tells gay clergy to end relationships”, but what the bishop is actually is quoted as saying doesn’t quite justify the headline. No doubt he wants the evangelicals to think that’s what he’s said, but reading between the lines the message is slightly different.

He has restated the policy of the House of Bishops based on “Issues in Human Sexuality”, but has said he won’t “start” witch hunts; which means that he will act, but only if circumstances are brought to his attention. So what he is really saying to his gay clergy is not “end your relationships”, but “keep your heads down, if I don’t know anything I won’t do anything”. In other words the same dishonest attitude which has been characteristic in most dioceses for the last ten years.


  1. Barry Waterfield says

    The real issue here is the disparity of growth between various branches of the church. Homosexuality is everywhere evident, both in the animal kingdom ( the four legged kind ) and amongst the human contingent. You’ll never stop it but at the same time there is no need to make such an issue out of it.Many worshippers concern themselves to excess with their neighbours activities, and pay not enough attention to their own spiritual development.There is much to do in the world and if it were all to be done, there would be no time to concern yourself with which bed your neighbour chooses to get into. The Evangelical Church is , to my taste, ( and I have to admit here that I am not a churchman merely an observer ) rather shallow, high on cheap music and overt prayer yet low on deeper spirituality.It never seems to get to chapter two, and indeed, in some cases gets stuck at the preface.By contrast the Quakers for instance are probably too immersed in prayer, but of the two it is the Quakers that are the least judgemental and it is the Quakers whose outreach, like the Salvation Army, is the more notable. The Church of England has allowed itself the luxury of loosing the plot completely in recent years, with arguments over women priests and gay marriage. It is interesting to note that most media coverage concerns issues of discontent within rather than social achievements without.The big concern seems to be maintaining unity with Africa but this is not really very important. The clergy abroad have their own priorities, the clergy in England should concern themselves more with ‘the folks back home’ I personally, can see no real need for gay marriage but in Gods plan for the universe I doubt very much whether it is all that important and certainly not enough to cause the endless po faced debates we, the general public , have been witnessing of late. The church should concern itself with the priorities not the window dressing. Christ’s message, whether or not you believe he really existed, is a good one. Christians should put aside there little spats, get out there, and sell the product.

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