Bishop of Llandaff sexuality row 'wholly wrong'

The Very Rev Jeffrey John

Cathedral leaders have backed a priest who says he was rejected for a job as a Welsh bishop because he is gay.

Dean of St Albans Cathedral Dr Jeffrey John accused the Church in Wales of homophobia after failing to become the next Bishop of Llandaff.

His cathedral's administrative body said it was "wholly wrong" that it appears the clergyman's sexuality was used against him.

The Church in Wales "strongly denied" the accusations of homophobia.

In a statement published on Monday, St Albans Cathedral Chapter body wrote: "Dean Jeffrey is a highly respected and much loved leader of our flourishing and inclusive Cathedral, the oldest site of Christian worship in Britain.

"The fact that it appears Jeffrey's sexuality and civil partnership have been used against him in the selection process is wholly wrong and it is only right that the bishops in Wales review the process before making an appointment.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dr John was installed as the Dean of St Albans in 2004

In an open letter from Dr John to Wales' most senior Bishop, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon - the Right Reverend John Davies, he claimed he was told it would be "too much of a headache" to appoint him in Cardiff.

An electoral college of bishops, clergy and lay people failed to reach a decision about who should replace Dr Barry Morgan as bishop.

It is understood Dr John received a majority of the votes, but not the two-thirds required by Church rules.

He said homophobic remarks had been made at the electoral college meeting.

"Much more importantly, the only arguments adduced against my appointment - in particular by two of the bishops - were directly related to my homosexuality and/or civil partnership - namely that my appointment would bring unwelcome and unsettling publicity to the diocese," he wrote.

A Church in Wales spokeswoman said: "At the recent meeting of Electoral College no one candidate secured the necessary two-thirds majority to be elected Bishop of Llandaff. The appointment will now be made by the Church's bishops.

"After a process of consultation, they have drawn up a shortlist of names which is confidential. However, the Bishops strongly deny allegations of homophobia."

Dr John, who was born in Tonyrefail in Rhondda Cynon Taff, was nominated as Bishop of Reading in 2003, but was asked to withdraw from the role by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

He entered a civil partnership with Grant Holmes in 2006, but said at the time he had remained celibate, in line with Church teaching.

Dr John's nomination as Bishop of Reading caused controversy in 2003 when Dr Williams summoned him to Lambeth Palace and asked him to withdraw from the post.

Image copyright Church in Wales
Image caption Attempts to select a new Bishop of Llandaff have so far been unsuccessful

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