The Church of England has blocked the appointment of a gay clergyman to the role of Bishop of Southwark after a bitter behind-the-scenes battle which has left the conservatives and liberals at loggerheads and possibly weakened the standing of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, media reports said.
Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, was rejected after it was leaked that he was on the Crown Nominations Commission shortlist for the post in south London, one of the most liberal of all the church's dioceses, the Daily Telegraph said.
It is a second humiliation for the openly gay but celibate John, who seven years ago was forced to stand down from becoming the Bishop of Reading after opposition from evangelicals.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had asked his friend to forgo the Reading post in an attempt to keep the church together, and will be seen as having been central in this week's decision.
Williams, angry that details from the confidential CNC meeting were leaked for political purposes, said he would not allow himself to be pressurised into backing any one candidate, the Times reported.