First Church of England bishop comes out as gay

Canterbury, England — Nicholas Chamberlain, the bishop of Grantham, has come out as the first Church of England bishop to openly acknowledge he is gay.

Chamberlain, 52, said in an interview with the Guardian published Sept. 2 that he is living with a man and in a long term loving relationship, though it does not involve sex.

The Guardian predicted that Chamberlain's announcement "will be embraced by campaigners for equality but is likely to alarm conservatives who fear the church is moving away from traditional teachings."

As a suffragan bishop, Chamberlain is subordinate to the archbishop of his diocese, Lincoln, in the east of England.

The bishop was ordained last year by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who says he knew Chamberlain was gay.

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Welby was quoted in British media as saying that "his appointment as Bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the Church in the Diocese of Lincoln.

"He lives within the Bishops' guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office."

The Church of England opposes same-sex marriage and requires that gay clergy remain celibate.

The Guardian said Chamberlain decided to make the announcement to preempt a Sunday newspaper that planned to out him over the weekend.

[Trevor Grundy is an RNS correspondent based in Canterbury.]

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