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Church of England lifts ban on gay bishops

The Church of England has lifted its ban on gay clergymen becoming bishops. The House of Bishops said clergy in civil partnerships could take such positions provided they live in accordance with Church teachings.

The Church of England has lifted a moratorium on allowing clergy in same-sex civil partnerships from becoming candidates for the episcopate. In order to be considered, however, they must promise to remain celibate.

In 2011, the House of Bishops said that clergy in civil partnerships should not be appointed as bishops until after they had reviewed a 2005 statement on the subject.

The decision to lift the ban was made by the House in late December, and it was confirmed by the Church of England in a statement on its website Friday.

"The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate," the statement said.

The Bishop of Sodor & Man, Robert Paterson, chaired the review group looking into the 2005 statement.

The Church House published a summary of business in late December, saying that the Bishops "confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate."

According to the 2005 statement on civil partnerships, the House of Bishops said it did not see civil partnerships as intrinsically incompatible with the Church's teachings," provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in the Issues in Human Sexuality."

Issues in Human Sexuality was compiled by the House of Bishops in 1991, and explains that "clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships."