Great Britain | News | Religion

Church Of England Will Let Partnered, Celibate Gay Men Be Bishops

WestminsterThe Anglican Church of England last night announced that after years of international debate, they will now allow gay men to become bishops. These gay men, however, must be in a civil partnership and also celibate.

"The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate," the Bishop of Norwich, Graham James, said in a statement.

"The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church's teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline."

The New York Times offers more details:

The new policy was introduced in December, when the House of Bishops, a body within the church, published a list of recent decisions. One of those was to lift the ban on clergymen in civil partnerships becoming bishops. In 2005, the church ruled that people in civil partnerships could become clergy members, but the ruling did not apply to bishops.

The decision does not affect women in the church, who are not allowed to become bishops at all.

Baby steps?

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  1. Partnered - Celibate?

    Who do they think they're kidding?

    Posted by: Taylor | Jan 5, 2013 9:25:32 AM

  2. After "years of international debate" they came up with that? Geniuses.

    Posted by: Oxnard Rick | Jan 5, 2013 9:36:50 AM

  3. How about this standard instead: Gay men can be bishops as long as they are married to women with whom they do not have sex. We've been doing it for years anyway, might as well make it official.

    Makes as much sense as "A gay man can be a bishop provided they are in a committed relationship recognized by the government but not the church, and aren't having sex with anyone, including their partner."

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Jan 5, 2013 9:54:03 AM

  4. This makes no sense on many levels. The celibate partner thing of course. But the timing is particularly strange, in the midst of the gay marriage debate in the UK, where the Anglican Church has voiced opposition, and the law for some reason prohibits the Anglican church from conducting marriages. Given the church's anti-marriage posture I assume they won't want their gay, celibate bishops to be married, but they also can't be single. Maybe the UK government will leave the civil partnership category open after marriage passes, which will just be used for all those gay celibate bishops with a partner who don't want to be married?

    Posted by: Brian Renaud | Jan 5, 2013 9:55:47 AM

  5. "Who do they think they're kidding?"

    Probably the same people who used to buy the idea that all priests were straight and celibate to begin with.

    "Pay no attention to Father's roommate!"

    Posted by: Lymis | Jan 5, 2013 9:57:04 AM

  6. "Well Dear, I've got good news and I've got bad news. The good news is I did get that big promotion at work."
    "And the bad news?"

    Posted by: Former Catholic Seminarian | Jan 5, 2013 10:09:31 AM

  7. For a moment, I thought I had reading comprehension problems. Then I read the comments and either we're all stupid or it is actually what it seems to be: Asking people to be in a civil union... but not have sex with their partner. Like, WTF.

    Way to promote honesty and openness in the clergy.

    Posted by: G.I. Joe | Jan 5, 2013 10:28:58 AM

  8. Thanks, I guess, but it's a little creepy. How do they expect to monitor this? It's like making them into castrati.

    Do blowjobs count? Jerking off together?

    Are the two men allowed to kiss? Are they allowed to hug? Are they allowed to dance together? Hold hands?

    Must they sleep in separate beds, like Lucy and Ricky?

    How will this new ruling be measured?

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Jan 5, 2013 10:29:21 AM

  9. The Orthodox churches could provide a better model(if they weren't so set against gay people): priests can marry, but anybody on the path to higher offices can't. This Anglican position is simply ludicrous.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Jan 5, 2013 10:30:07 AM

  10. Only "celibate" men are allowed to be priests in the RC Church. And we have all seen how well the "celibate" part of that requirement has turned out. Of course one of the definitions of the word "celibacy" is abstention from marriage, so I guess if gay bishops are only civil partnered, they are not married and thus celibate from that definition of the word.

    But why they would be required to be in a civil partnership in order to ordained a bishop is beyond me. That would be like saying all RC bishops must be in a civil partnership with a woman, but they are not allowed to have sex. Do they really expect people in a committed relationship to never have sex? And how do they check?

    Posted by: john patrick | Jan 5, 2013 10:33:45 AM

  11. WHAT?! That's so ridiculous I almost did a spit-take.

    The good news is it's so patently stupid that many will have the same reaction and be reminded what a niggling and moronic thing organized religion really is.

    If that's the best they can come up with, arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin would have been more productive, less of a shoddy half-measure spewed from the necrotic bowels of a religious bureaucracy staffed by half-wits and dunderheads.

    The bad news is that compared to the Catholic church this is space-age modernity.

    One thing I've never understood though. It's my perception that in general women tend to be more religious than men. (Maybe it's just that men talk about it less?) So why aren't they more upset by the blatant misogyny of organized religion, which seems to believe they are more intrinsically "wicked" than men, constitutionally unfit for service? Devout women in these temples of male privilege and superiority are the equivalent of gay Republicans. (Or gay Anglicans for that matter.)

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 5, 2013 10:43:55 AM

  12. The definition of "celibacy" is "unmarried", not "chaste", although the two terms seem to have been commingled. It is therefore ludicrous to be in a "civil partnership", the only marriage equivalent available, and be "celibate". If what they want is bishops who are partnered but chaste, they're idiots. Note that the Episcopal Church in the United States, the arm of the Anglican Communion here, allows gay bishops who aren't partnered or chaste. I've lost track of where they stand on female bishops, but I believe those are also a possibility in the U.S. This makes the Episcopal Church very unpopular with other members of the Anglican Communion.

    Posted by: Charles Sublett | Jan 5, 2013 11:18:32 AM

  13. "These gay men, however, must be in a civil partnership and also celibate."

    Oh gee, thanks! Will they force the men to wear chastity belts? Put surveillance cameras in their rooms? Maybe take weekly lie-detector tests to determine whether or not they're maintaining their vow of celibacy? What they're doing is forcing these men - this same-sex, married couple - to lie. Considering that many are already lying when they tell you that Satan and Hell exist, perhaps this is a win-win.

    Who would be so desperate to serve the Church of England that they'd agree to such a thing?

    Posted by: Gigi | Jan 5, 2013 11:56:06 AM

  14. Yet more proof of the ridiculousness of religion. I never cease to be amazed at the brilliance and yet utter stupidity of humankind.

    Posted by: Casey | Jan 5, 2013 12:10:51 PM

  15. One advantage in having a civil union relationship is that the State will pay the cost of partner benefits. It's one of the perks of an Established Church. And if the bishops are in supposedly monogamous (and uber-chaste) pairings, the risk of sex scandal could be diminished. It's a racket.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Jan 5, 2013 12:19:59 PM

  16. Spoiler alert ... this article is misleadingly written. To clarify ... the CofE isn't saying a gay man must be in a civil partnership to be considered for appointment to Bishop, but if he is that he must be 'celibate'. A single gay man is allowed to be a bishop ... providing he's celibate also.

    Okay, I agree that his is all completely insane in any case, but if you want a clearer picture of the whole hot mess have a look at the PinkNews report on the issue.

    Posted by: yvr man | Jan 5, 2013 12:22:12 PM

  17. Baby steps? No, just a total lack of both integrity and balls.

    Posted by: Fr Bill | Jan 5, 2013 12:46:12 PM

  18. So the house gays get to be butlers instead of just footmen. BFD.

    Posted by: jomicur | Jan 5, 2013 1:23:53 PM

  19. This post really merits a correction. Re-read the linked article.

    Posted by: rewrite? | Jan 5, 2013 1:34:31 PM

  20. OK, let's clear this up. The only time the bishop can have intimate contact with his partner is when they rent a two-man horse costume and the partner is the front half of the horse and the bishop is the horses's ass. Got it?

    Posted by: too cute to be catholic | Jan 5, 2013 1:45:52 PM

  21. @Thomas, the main point.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Jan 5, 2013 1:53:10 PM

  22. Wtf they shouldnt be allowed!

    Posted by: x | Jan 5, 2013 2:25:29 PM

  23. Waiting for Saturday Night Live to do a skit on this.

    Posted by: Rexford | Jan 5, 2013 3:51:58 PM

  24. Is this from The Onion?

    Posted by: SC David | Jan 5, 2013 4:04:40 PM

  25. like how the LDS will welcome gays as long as they don't "act upon" their gayness, with the exception of joining that big ol'Mormon Show Choir.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 5, 2013 4:13:48 PM

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