Gays mar bishop's day

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The Independent Online
(First Edition) THE BISHOP OF Durham, the Right Rev Michael Turnbull, convicted 26 years ago for an act of gross indecency in a public lavatory, spoke at his enthronement yesterday of the 'gravity of sin' and of his 'repentance'. The effective public apology will have appeased some Church of England moral hardliners, but will do little to calm homosexual rights activists who denounced the new bishop as a hypocrite.

The enthronement service at Durham Cathedral came four weeks after the News of the World newspaper disclosed Bishop Turnbull's indecency conviction. His past was known to the present archbishops of Canterbury and York, to Lord Runcie, the previous archbishop and to Lord Coggan, whom Dr Turnbull had acted as chaplain when the offence took place.

Bishop Turnbull - who according to close associates had seriously considered withdrawing from the yesterday's consecretion ceremony when his past was revealed - told the congregation in the packed cathedral that he had been 'through a private and now public process of repentance'.

He said he was 'deeply sorry' that friends had to share in the consequences his past had brought.

Dr Turnbull has stated he is not and 'never was' a homosexual. Last year he offered full support to the House of Bishop's policy that an open homosexual way of life was 'incompatible' with full-time ministry.

As Dr Turnbull's sermon touched on the 'depth of forgiveness' and acceptance by many fellow Christians, a demonstration by homosexual rights activists outside the cathedral resulted in arrests by police.

The leader of the pressure group, Outrage, Peter Tatchell, was one of those arrested. He was bundled to the ground by officers as he tried to interupt the beginning of the enthronement ceremony. Outrage supporters chanted 'Turnbull is a hypocrite' and 'Sack the bishop'. Others carried placards proclaiming, 'From Cottage to Cathedral'. Those arrested were taken to Durham police station.