A senior Church of England Bishop who apologised for the church’s rigid stance against same sex marriage has unexpectedly resigned. The Rt Rev Michael Perham, 66, Bishop of Gloucester, left his role “with immediate effect” yesterday. Citing “personal reasons” as the reason for his sudden departure, a statement from the Diocese of Gloucester said the bishop had “stepped back” from his position.
Bishop Perham had been critical of an edict issued by the CofE’s House of Bishops in February which forbade gay clergy to marry same sex partners. The House had also ruled said that gay marriages should not be blessed in church.
In May, he said of the CofE’s ruling: “The House of Bishops, producing a statement under some pressure, underestimated how uncompromising and hurtful the statement felt to some.
“The tone was harsh – there was not much sense of welcome to all as children of God. I am sorry for that and for the hurt I know it has engendered.”
Bishop Perham, who is married with four adult children, was also a vocal supporter of women bishops.
The Daily Telegraph reported that a spokesman for the diocese had refused to comment on whether the CofE had asked Bishop Perham to resign. A member of the diocese confirmed he had been informed of his departure the day before it was announced.
“We here in his Diocese received a very enigmatic email yesterday saying no more than the press statement,” he said.
Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, declined to comment on the shock resignation. Bishop Perham had been Bishop of Gloucester for 10 years, was one of the 26 “Lord’s Spiritual” in the House of Lords and, until 2001, had sat on the Church’s liturgical commission for 19 years. Bishop Perham been due to retire in the autumn, but a CofE spokesman said it “did not know” whether a special ceremony to mark his time as Bishop, scheduled for 8 November, would still take place.
Members of the CofE had previously speculated that following his Autumn departure, Gloucester may have been the first diocese in the CofE’s history to appoint a woman bishop.
Last week Vada Magazine reported that former health secretary Lord Fowler had called on the Government to intervene in the House of Bishops’ February ruling on gay clergy, asking if Minsters could “as a matter of goodwill, look at the position here and see if there is anything that could be done to help reconcile the difficulties.”