The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he has no problem with gay people being bishops as long as they are celibate. He said he had been conscious of the issue of homosexuality as "a wound in the whole ministry" since his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. But he had to decide against endorsing gay relationships for clergy and bishops because "the cost to the Church overall was too great to be borne at that point".

He said: "To put it very simply, there's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop. It's about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe. So there's always a question about the personal life of the clergy."

Dr Williams admitted that one of the most difficult periods in his eight years at Lambeth Palace came when he blocked the appointment of the gay, celibate cleric Jeffrey John to the post of Bishop of Reading. He said he let down Dr John.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told The Times that the Archbishop was being inconsistent.

"Yet again, Rowan is sitting on the fence regarding gay clergy. I don't know how Rowan sleeps at night. Before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, he supported gay inclusion and equality. Now he victimises gay clergy like Jeffrey John and goes out of his way to accommodate some of the most hateful Christian homophobes in the world. In his eyes, Church unity is more important than the human rights of lesbian and gay people."

In his interview Dr Williams also revealed he will retire before his full term as Archbishop ends in 10 years, saying: "I will not be doing this job when I'm 70."



  1. There is more to this photoshoppe than first meets the eye. I see Jesus down on the ground to the left being attached to his cross, as if crucified anew. I see Rowan for Abraham Lincoln. Who is the woman?

  2. “I don’t know how Rowan sleeps at night. In his eyes, Church unity is more important than the human rights of lesbian and gay people.”

    Peter Tatchell got it exactly right. In fact, that attitude is pretty much behind all the dilly-dallying, shuckin’ ‘n jivin’ behind the refusal of TEC and many other churches to act with justice for many decades. Only now, when TEC has seen that no matter what they do, they wil be castigated by the far right, have the leaders felt free to act as the gospel should have led them years ago.

  3. Per the great graphic: Presiding Bishop John Henry Hopkins actually said just about that in his 1861 defence of slavery “from the days of the Partiarch Abraham to the 19th Century” — he felt that division of the union over the issue was far graver a sin than the continuation of slavery. Appalling, but true.