Church of England
By Yemi Adebowale with agency report
The Church of England has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.
The announcement yesterday from the Church's House of Bishops, would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate.
Conservative evangelical Anglicans say they will fight the move in the Church's ruling general synod.
The issue has split the church since 2003 amid a row over gay cleric Jeffrey John becoming Bishop of Reading.
John, now Dean of St. Albans, was forced to withdraw from the role shortly after having initially accepted it, following protests from traditionalists.
He was also a candidate for Bishop of Southwark in 2010 but was rejected. Evidence emerged that this was because of his sexual orientation.
The Church of England has already agreed to allow people in civil partnerships to become clergy, provided they promised they would remain celibate.
In July last year, the House of Bishops said it would review this decision, made in 2005, to decide whether it could also relate to bishops.
In the list of decisions at its latest meeting in December, it has now confirmed that those conditions could now extend to bishops.
This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops, the Church Times said.
The Rev. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said on behalf of the House of Bishops that it would be "unjust to exclude anyone for consideration for the role of bishop who is seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church's teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline."
He said: "All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England."