A senior gay Anglican cleric has been shortlisted as a bishop for the eighth time.
Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans Cathedral, has been shortlisted as one of four possible candidates to be bishop of Brechin, in the Scottish Anglican church. Dr John has been passed over after having been shortlisted seven times over his career, with allegations that homophobia was behind some of the rejections.
The Scottish Episcopal Church changed its laws on marriage last year to allow same-sex couples to marry in church and allow gay priests to get married as well.
In a sign of its shift in stance since then, as well as John another gay cleric, Chris Newlands, vicar at Lancaster Priory, is also listed as a candidate to be bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane.
A conservative source in the Scottish Episcopal Church told Christian Today the decision to shortlist both John and Newlands was 'extraordinary'.
'They have not listened to anything that has been said,' he said pointing to concerns raised by the more traditionalist provinces around the world who make up the majority of the 80 million strong Anglican Communion.
'It is a statement of intent.'
If elected John and Newlands would probably attend the forthcoming Lambeth Conference in 2020, a ten-yearly gathering of bishops from all around the communion. This could lead to further boycotts from conservative African bishops, such as Nicholas Okoh, primate of All Nigeria, and Stanley Ntagali, primate of Uganda.
Standing alongside John for the diocese of Brechin is Dr Francis Bridger, rector of St Mary's Church, Broughty Ferry, Markus Dünzkofer, rector of St John the Evangelist Church, Edinburgh, and Andrew Swift, rector of Holy Trinity Church, Dunoon.
As well as Newlands, Dr Charlotte Methuen, professor of church history at the University of Glasgow and honorary assistant priest at St Margaret's church, and Ian Paton, rector of Old St Paul's Church, Edinburgh, are shortlisted for the diocese of St Andrew, Dunkeld & Dunblane.
The candidates for both dioceses will go before an electoral body made up of local clergy and churchgoers on May 26, before a decision is made on June 2.
Commenting on John's shortlist, the primus of the SEC, Mark Strange, said: 'We hope that the discernment in theE Electoral Synod will enable them to elect a new bishop who will lead the Diocese of Brechin in its future ministry and mission, and hold each of the candidates and the diocese in our prayers during this process.'