Wading once more into an issue that has caused angry divisions among Anglicans around the world, the Church of England said Friday that gay clergymen in civil partnerships could become bishops as long as they vowed to remain celibate.

“The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate,” or the office of bishop, Bishop Graham James of Norwich said in a statement.

The issue has been simmering here for years, most publicly in 2003, when the Rev. Jeffrey John, a Church of England priest who was in a long-term relationship with another male priest, was appointed bishop of Reading. Though the pair said they were celibate, the appointment provoked fury here and abroad, and Mr. John was pressed to step down.

He subsequently became the dean of St. Albans, and in 2007 entered into a civil partnership with his companion, the Rev. Grant Holmes.

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