The bishop who an employment tribunal found discriminated against a youth worker because he was gay has apologised for the “hurt and pain” he caused.
John Reaney was previously employed as a youth officer for the Norwich and Chester Church of England diocese. In an application form for a similar job in Hereford, Mr Reaney stated that he is gay.
Following a successful interview he was told that, subject the consent of the bishop, he would be appointed.
The Right Reverend Anthony Priddis, the 104th Bishop of Hereford, admitted to an employment tribunal in April that he had asked Mr Reaney a series of questions about his sex life during their meeting.
When he found out that the youth worker had recently come out of a five-year relationship, the bishop said he did not feel that: “It would not have been right for me to take an undertaking of his head that his heart could not keep,” namely that he would remain celibate, in line with church teachings.
The bishop decided Mr Reaney was not suitable for the job.
In a written statement, the bishop has now said: “I am very sorry for all the hurt and pain my decision not to appoint the claimant has caused him.
“I was concerned at the time and still am today.”
“The media attention has, in my opinion, made matters worse for myself, the claimant and the Church of England as a whole.”
The bishop also said he did “what I thought was right at the time, after much thought and prayer and discussion with others.”
“I am very sorry for the hurt and pain my decision has caused the claimant.
“It was a very difficult decision for me to make and it was not taken lightly.”
Mr Reaney was shocked that, in the Church of England, a bishop could be so blind to the skills that each person can bring to a key role such as youth worker:
“It is about getting to know the individual – I think sometimes people just take the sexuality and ignore the fact that this is a person.
“A lot of people who know me and found out this case was happening were quite surprised it was me, and that I am gay, but that has been positive.”
A tribunal agreed with Mr Reaney that he had been discriminated against on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
The bishop was named the “biggot of the year” at the Stonewall awards last month.