Church press chief stokes gay row

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The Independent Online
The Church of England's feuding over homosexuality led yesterday to the public pillorying of its director of communications, the Rev Eric Shegog, for an attack he made on Radio 4's "Thought for the Day".

Last month he made a formal protest to the BBC and demanded an apology after an attack on the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement's 20th anniversary service by Anne Atkins, an evangelical actress. When the Church of England's General Synod opened its meeting in Church House, Westminster, yesterday, an unprecedented 14 questions had been tabled attacking his actions.

Members were applauded as they asked why Mr Shegog had made a protest in the name of the whole Church of England against a broadcast which reiterated the synod's official denunciation of homosexual acts.

Philip Gore, a lay member from Manchester, extracted the information that Mr Shegog's salary may be as high as pounds 42,942 a year. Diocesan bishops get pounds 24,000, a palace, and often a chauffeur. Mr Gore asked "whether there are other large amounts of money being spent to undermine specific decisions of this synod and the future stability of the church".

Mr Shegog was defended by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Nigel McCullough, who said that though Mr Shegog had not consulted any bishops before protesting in the name of the whole Church of England, he had been "entirely within his rights to do so".

Other questions revealed that 391 priests had resigned since 1992 in protest against the ordination of women. Fifty-four of those who had left were retired. Sixteen have since returned to the Church of England.