A British bishop with the Church of England has announced that he is gay. Nicholas Chamberlain, the Bishop of Grantham in Central England is the first Bishop to reveal his sexual orientation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the world’s Anglican faith, said Chamberlain’s sexuality was “completely irrelevant”.
“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 said.
“He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.”
The Bishop said he was in a long-term relationship with his male partner, after a newspaper reportedly said it was about to publish a story on his private life.
“It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” he said, adding that he adhered to church guidelines which stipulate that gay clergy must be celibate.”
“People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on”
The church knew he was gay when he became a bishop last year, he revealed.
“I was myself. Those making the appointment knew about my sexual identity.” Chamberlain said of his relationship:
“It is faithful, loving, we are like-minded, we enjoy each other’s company and we share each other’s life.”
A Church of England spokesman said it would have been “unjust” not to appoint him based due to his sexuality.
Asked about whether other bishops might follow his lead in openly declaring their sexuality, he said:
“I really can only speak for myself. If I’m an encouragement to others, that would be great.”
The Church of England dropped its opposition to gay clergymen in civil partnerships becoming bishops in 2013, although many members of the Anglican communion have been opposed to this stand.