Gay priest rejects Bishop's job

Gay priest Canon Jeffrey John is to seek the permission of the Crown to withdraw his acceptance of appointment as Bishop of Reading, a spokesman for the Bishop of Oxford said.

Canon John made the decision because of the "damage my consecration might cause to the unity of the Church", he said in a letter to the Bishop of Oxford.

The Bishop of Oxford's spokesman said: "It's really due to pressure from the Anglican Communion and pressure overseas."

He added that Dr John was away for the weekend and would not make any further comment.

"He will have a holiday and then continue his work in the Diocese of Southwark."

In his letter to the Bishop of Oxford, Dr John wrote: "It has become clear to me that in view of the damage my consecration might cause to the unity of the Church, including the Anglican Communion, I must seek the consent of the Crown to withdraw acceptance of my appointment to the See of Reading.

"I am profoundly grateful to you for having placed such confidence in me, and to all those in the area and diocese who have so warmly welcomed and supported me in recent weeks."

The Bishop of Oxford wrote in response that he received the letter with "great sadness".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, called for a "pause for thought" after the announcement.

Dr Williams told reporters at Lambeth Palace "the announcement must give us all pause for thought. I hope that there will be proper opportunity to reflect on all this in depth."

And he said: "This has been a time of open and painful confrontation, in which some of our bonds of mutual trust have been severely strained. We need now to give ourselves the proper opportunities honestly to think through what has happened and to find what God has been teaching us in these difficult days."

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