A Church of England committee has rejected the nomination of a gay priest to be the next Bishop of Southwark.
Dr. Jeffrey John had reportedly been on the list of nominees considered by the Crown Nominations Commission earlier this week, although the Diocese of Southwark said it was unable to confirm the reports.
John is believed to have been rejected after the Archbishop of Canterbury came under considerable pressure from conservative Anglicans who said that traditionalist parishes would seek alternative oversight if he were to become the Church of England’s first gay bishop.
News of his rejection was welcomed by Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of Christian Concern For Our Nation.
“It is vital that the Church holds firm to biblical teaching regarding sexual ethics and marriage as between one man and one woman," she said. “If the Church endorses or is seen to endorse anything other than this truth then there will be still more confusion and disillusion. Society is crying out for strong and courageous moral leadership.
“We must not shirk back from speaking the truth on these issues and proclaiming the gospel, whilst always affirming God’s love for every human being."
Conservative Anglican groups Reform and Anglican Mainstream had warned of a split in the Church of England if John were to be appointed Bishop of Southwark.
In a statement, Reform said: “Dr. John’s teaching regarding homosexual practice is contrary to both the Bible and to the current doctrine of the Church of England.
“To appoint him Bishop would send two very clear signals. First, that the diocese of Southwark wants to walk in a different direction to the Church of England’s doctrine. Second that there is now little to stop the Church of England proceeding in the same divisive direction as the Episcopal Church in the USA.
"We would support churches in Southwark seeking alternative oversight should Dr John be appointed."
John, who is in a same-sex civil union, was previously appointed Bishop of Reading in 2003 but stepped down from the position in the face of backlash from conservative Anglicans.
The Episcopal Church in the USA saw the departure of dozens of conservative parishes after it consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003. Despite Anglican Communion-wide moratorium on consecrating any more gay bishops, the U.S. body went ahead with the consecration of its second partnered homosexual bishop earlier this year.