Bishop in `outing' row goes to York goes to York

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The Independent Online
Four weeks after a campaign by militant gay rights activists forced him to publicly describe his sexuality as "ambiguous", Dr David Hope has been appointed Archbishop of York.

Yesterday the Bishop of London's elevation to second senior cleric in the Church of England was welcomed by many who admired his stand against the gay rights group OutRage! - even if they disagreed with his opposition to the ordination of women.

Those against female priests said the appointment of a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic - succeeding Dr John Habgood who retires in August - made them feel welcome in the Church again. "Many will feel strengthened," the Venerable George Austin, Archdeacon of York, said. "For the first time since female ordination went through I feel affirmed as a member of the Church."

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, welcomed the appointment of Dr Hope, who had proved "a shrewd and strong leader in the diocese of London" and praised his "quiet but firm diplomacy". It is believed the Church hopes the combination of Dr George Carey, an evangelical who supported women's ordination, and Dr Hope will bring stability to a Church recently threatened with schism over that issue and now shaken by the campaign to out gay priests. But some warned the appointment can only exacerbate divisions over homosexuality within the church.

Yesterday Dr Carey said: "We complement each other in churchmanship, and in opinions on a wide range of issues, but we are single minded in our concern for the Church of England and its mission to the nation and, through the wider Anglican Communion, to the world."

Last month at a press conference to publicise correspondence from Peter Tatchell, of OutRage!, Dr Hope said his sexuality was "a grey area" but he was celibate. He said yesterday that he had made that statement before being been asked to consider becoming Archbishop.

Within hours of being appointed, Dr Hope was in York, walking in the gardens of his new home. He said discussion was already under way on whether gays and lesbians could live and work within the Church. He added: "I intend to make it a priority into the next century to keep the lines of human sexuality open. I will try and encourage careful and sensitive discussion on all these issues."

Not favourite for the job, he said the offer came "as a considerable surprise". The Rt Rev Stephen Sykes, Bishop of Ely, was believed to be the front runner. Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, was also mentioned. Dr Hope said his initial reaction had been no because he had grown attached to London and the work he was doing there.

Dr Hope has been praised for his efforts to reconcile the two sides on female ordination. London was the most bitterly divided diocese and strategies developed there have provided a blueprint. While refusing to ordain women himself, he has allowed others to do so in London.

"I hope that my appointment is a signal to the Anglo Catholic movement that there is still a place and a space for those of that tradition in the Church of England," he said yesterday.

Heated debate, page 3