Church plays down speculation of gay cleric as next Bishop of Bangor

The Church in Wales has played down media reports speculating that controversial gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John could become the next Bishop of Bangor.

If elected, Dr John would be the first openly gay bishop in the Church in Wales and the UK.

Welsh bishops will meet at Bangor Cathedral on October 10 to vote on a successor to the previous Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Rev Tony Crockett, who died of cancer earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for the Church in Wales did not confirm that Dr John was in the running for the position, telling the Western Mail that nominations are not made until bishops in the electoral college meet to make the appointment.

According to the newspaper, the spokeswoman inferred that it was unlikely Dr John would be selected for the post in light of the moratorium on homosexual consecrations agreed by bishops at the recent Lambeth Conference.

"The bishops of the Church in Wales are mindful that the recent Lambeth Conference called for a moratorium on the ordination of bishops in single-sex partnerships and they take that conference very seriously," the spokesperson was quoted as saying. She added, however, that Dr John's popularity as a cleric and fluency in the Welsh language made him "absolutely" qualified for the post.

Dr John was forced to turn down the post of Bishop of Reading in 2003 when his appointment, supported at the time by the Archbishop of Canterbury, met huge protests from conservatives in the Church of England. He instead took up the role of Dean of St Albans. In August 2006, he entered into a civil partnership with long-term partner, the Rev Grant Holmes.

Earlier in the year, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said that practising homosexuals should not be barred from becoming bishops and that he would support the election of a gay bishop.