Tutu wants gay priests ordained

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu yesterday urged the Church of England openly to ordain gay priests in stable relationships. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme, the veteran South African campaigner compared the church's refusal to recognise homosexual relationships to the injustices of apartheid, writes Andrew Brown.

Dr Tutu's remarks, made after the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement's full-page advertisements in the religious press to celebrate its 20th anniversary, will further destabilise the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, to damp down a divisive issue.

The Archbishop, one of the most influential figures in the world-wide Anglican communion, also stressed the importance of faithfulness in same- sex relationships.

He said: "The church has not got there yet, but I am saying if we were to say that in relationships where there is fidelity between a couple why should we not extend the same conditions to same- sex relationships?"

The General Synod, which meets this week to debate reorganising the church and its finances, is expected to discuss the treatment of gay Christians later this year, when a private member's motion will call for more debate. The Church's official line is confused. All sides agree that homosexuals should be welcomed as practising Christians, but dispute whether they should be welcomed as practising homosexuals. A Synod resolution in 1987 overwhelmingly denounced "homo- sexual genital acts" along with adultery; but the Synod then rejected a call for erring clergy to be disciplined.