Ely Cathedral supports a clergyman who says he has been refused a bishop’s post in Wales because he is gay
PUBLISHED: 11:36 23 March 2017
Ely Cathedral is supporting a clergyman who says the reason he has not been considered for a bishop’s post is because he is gay.
The cathedral chapter – which includes clergy, laity and senior officials – issued a statement arguing that a person’s sexuality should not be used when considering a candidate for church posts.
The statement in support of the Very Rev Jeffrey John says: “The Chapter of Ely Cathedral wish to express their unanimous support for the statement issued by the Chapter of St Albans Cathedral in the light of the treatment of their dean, Jeffrey John, during the process for the election of a new Bishop of Llandaff.”
The Chapter of St Albans Cathedral said: “Dean Jeffrey is a highly respected and much loved leader of our flourishing and inclusive cathedral, the oldest site of Christian worship in Britain.
“We are aware that Jeffrey has been under consideration for the position of Bishop of Llandaff.
“The fact that it appears Jeffrey’s sexuality and civil partnership has 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.
“Our prayers are with the people of the Diocese of Llandaff, the bishops in Wales and with Jeffrey.”
The Church in Wales has “strongly denied” the accusations of homophobia but Rev John said he was told appointing him would be difficult because he is in a civil partnership, although celibate, in line with Church teaching.
Dean Jeffrey has told church authorities in Wales that people in Llandaff were unanimous in their support for him.
“To ride roughshod over the very clearly expressed unanimous view of a diocese….is extraordinary, unprecedented and foolish,” he said.
Dean Jeffery said the church’s Electoral College had been told neither homosexuality nor a civil partnership were a bar to a candidate’s eligibility.
“What followed however proves the statement hypocritical and untrue,” he said.
The dean had applied to replace Dr Barry Morgan as bishop.
It is understood Dean Jeffery received a majority of the votes, but not the two-thirds required by church rules.
Dean Jeffery, 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.
In 2012 he said the church was not supporting gay people.
He is a public supporter of same-sex marriage, writing in the Church Times in 2012 that “theologically, ethically, and sacramentally, there is no difference between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple who cannot have children.
“So, yes, same-sex marriage can be as holy and sacramental as heterosexual marriage. Yes, God is in favour of gay marriage and so should the Church be,” he added.
• In Ely the Chapter includes the dean, the Very Rev Mark Bonney, four canons, lay cannons, vicars, licensed lay readers and a children’s licensed minister. It does not include the Bishop Stephen Conway.