In an interview with Jonathan Wynne-Jones for the Sunday Telegraph on 28 May, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries reaffirmed his belief that an openly gay man should be allowed to be appointed a bishop. He expressed his regret that Canon Jeffrey John, now Dean of St Albans, had been forced to withdraw as Bishop of Reading. He said “I’d still like him to become a bishop. He has all the gifts to be a bishop, but there is still a process of discernment going on. For there to be change, evangelicals have to be convinced that a permanent, faithful same-sex partnership is congruous with biblical truth.”
Bishop Richard said that the Jeffrey John affair had made people think about the issue in a way that they never had before. “I knew that it would be divisive within the diocese of Oxford, but I thought that that could be contained within two years. I hadn’t realised the effect on the Anglican Communion and the pressure put on the archbishop as a result of that. It’s difficult to have gay partnerships fully accepted by the Church, a Church in which evangelicals are a valued part, if they are so strongly opposed to it. There has to be a conversion to a new way to see that gay partnerships are not contrary to biblical truth. They are congruous with the deepest biblical truths, about faithfulness and stability.”
The article says Bishop Richard has reignited the Church of England row over homosexuality by claiming that same-sex partnerships are supported by the Bible. He also said that the Church of England faced a split if the liberal and conservative factions did not come to an agreement on how to be more inclusive towards homosexuals.
Bishop Richard was made a life peer last week and retires this week.