London: An openly gay cleric has been blocked from becoming a Church of England bishop, amid fears the controversial ordination could have further strained the Anglican movement, reports said on Thursday.
Jeffrey John had been tipped to become Bishop of Southwark, in London, after making the shortlist with strong support from the local diocese, The Times and Telegraph newspapers reported.
But a selection committee, which included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams -- the head of the 77 million Anglicans across the globe -- rejected calls for John`s ordination, said the papers.
John, currently the Dean of St Albans, is openly gay and entered a civil partnership in 2006, but lives a celibate life.
Traditionalists had previously warned that his appointment could damage the Church of England.
"We think that if this were to happen, then the sort of split that has happened in America would be precipitated here," said Rev Paul Dawson, spokesman for Reform, the conservative evangelical group.
John`s rejection came against the backdrop of Williams struggling to hold together the worldwide Anglican communion, amid tensions over the ordination of gay and female bishops.
The archbishop has spoken out against the ordination of gay bishops in the US, fearing the strains it could place on the Anglican movement.
When the Episcopal Church in the United States chose a 56-year-old lesbian to be a bishop last year, Williams reacted sternly.
He said the election of Mary Glasspool "raised very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole."
The issue of female bishops has also been a great source of tension in the Church of England, with splits emerging over the issue at the church`s national assembly in February.