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Clergy sign 'love letter' to gay bishops

Published on the website, the clergy, who include the Bishop of Buckingham Rt Rev Alan Wilson, say: "We write to assure those bishops who may choose openly to acknowledge their sexual orientation as gay or bisexual that you will receive our support, prayer, and encouragement.

"Sadly, we live at a time when those who are honest about being LGBTI and Christian are treated with hostility by a vocal minority within and outside the Church.

"We have no doubt that the vast majority of Anglicans will welcome and embrace those of you who are gay or bisexual for your courage and conviction if you come out: weeping with you for past hurts and rejoicing in God's call as witnesses to Christ's transforming love and compassion."

The letter comes just a week after the Bishop of Buckingham said there may be as many as one in 10 gay bishops within the Church of England.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour, he said the Church was 'in a twist' over the issue of homosexuality: "We've been going round and round in circles for 30 years in this.

"I've been part of at least three rounds of facilitated conversation in the 35 years I've been ordained.

"Strangely enough, pretty much everyone else in British society has managed to get through it in a better way: people in the military, people in politics, people in the media."

Earlier this month, the College of Bishops met to discuss guidance given to vicars about gay marriage.

It comes after the Church strongly opposed a change to the definition of marriage.

The Church has also put a ban on any clergy taking part in a same-sex union.

The letter, which was published over the weekend, also has support from members of the Catholic Church, Methodist Church, Baptist Union, United Reformed Church and Church of Scotland.

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