Dr John Austin Baker, the former Bishop of Salisbury, warned of splits within the Church unless the issue was addressed. He was speaking after gay-rights activists scaled the walls of Lambeth Palace on Sunday to confront Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, over the Church's stance on homosexuals.
Speaking at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, Dr Baker said he disagreed with the statement by the House of Bishops in 1991 that someone in a gay relationship could not be a priest: "The bishops saw same-sex erotic relationships as incompatible with the clerical vocation ... I find myself obliged to now dissent from that judgement." In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury described Dr Baker's speech as "a very significant departure from the Church's current mind". Ian Burrell