Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

Archbishop of Canterbury backs gay bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he has “no problem” with gay people being bishops as long as they stay celibate.

Dr Rowan Williams signalled his personal support for the consecration of gay bishops in the Church of England.

But he said he would never endorse bishops in active homosexual relationships because of tradition and historical “standards” that require gay clergy to remain celibate.

His comments in a newspaper interview sparked accusations from equality campaigners that he was putting Church unity above the rights of gay and lesbian people.

He also risks deepening divisions within the Church of England and the wider Anglican communion.

Liberals are likely to be angered by the Archbishop’s insistence that celibacy must be compulsory for homosexual clergy but not for heterosexuals.

Conservatives would argue his stance puts him at odds with church teaching.