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Jeffrey John in line to become bishop in Church of England

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Telegraph

An openly-homosexual cleric has been nominated to become a senior bishop, in a move that threatens to provoke a damaging split in the Church of England.

A confidential meeting, chaired by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has approved Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, to be on the shortlist to be the next Bishop of Southwark.  He is understood to be the favoured candidate. Dr John is a hugely divisive figure in the church after he was forced to stand down from becoming the Bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was in a homosexual, but celibate, relationship.

Promoting him to one of the most senior offices in the Church would trigger a civil war between liberals and conservatives and exacerbate existing divisions within the Anglican Communion.  Members of the Crown Nominations Commission, the body responsible for selecting bishops, will vote this week on whether Dr John's name should now be put forward to the Prime Minister for final approval.

David Cameron has been made aware that Dr John is on the shortlist for the post and is understood to be supportive of such an appointment. Once the preferred candidate is rubber-stamped by Mr Cameron it is passed to the Queen for final approval.

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