Vicar told to accept bishop's authority or resign

A vicar has been told to hand back his licence by the Archbishop of Canterbury if he cannot accept the spiritual jurisdiction of his local bishop.

Dr George Carey's representatives have intervened in a dispute between the Bishop of Worcester, the Right Rev Peter Selby, and the vicar, the Rev Charles Raven.

Mr Raven does not want the bishop to take the confirmation service at St John the Baptist Church in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, at Easter because of his liberal views on homosexuality. The bishop declined to sign the 1998 Lambeth resolution denying legitimacy to same-sex unions and has not ruled out ordaining practising homosexuals as priests.

The district church council requested that Mr Raven present candidates for confirmation to a bishop who rejected homosexuality. Mr Raven also objected to candidates for a team rector's post in the diocese, at which point the Archbishop's office stepped in.

A spokeswoman for Dr Carey said: "...Mr Raven said he no longer accepted the authority of the Bishop of Worcester. It was pointed out to him that the authority to work in the parish comes from the Bishop of Worcester. [The] logic of his situation was that if he no longer accepted the authority of the bishop then the honourable thing to do would be to hand back his licence. The Archbishop's representatives at no time put pressure on him to do that."

Mr Raven said he had no intention of handing back his licence. He added: "Many ordinary people will find it very hard to understand how it is that clergy and laity who seek to be faithful to the teaching of the Bible, the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion can be expected to leave while their bishop not only remains in office but continues, unrebuked, to be backed for his public support of homosexual practice in direct contradiction of the clear teaching of the Bible and the Church."