A Church of England assistant bishop has appointed the first HIV-positive gay priest to head a congregation in the United Kingdom, London's Times reports.
According to the Times, about 25 to 30 of the church's clergy members have died from AIDS-related illnesses in the past 15 years; however, this marks the first time a bishop knowingly appointed a priest who is HIV-positive.
The appointment has "caused concern locally" because church wardens were not informed that the priest was forced to retire from a previous parish when he became aware of his HIV status, the Times reports.
Some opponents of gay and lesbian clergy see the appointment as "provocative" and a "threa[t]" to the unity of the worldwide Anglican community, according to the Times.
However, one church bishop said, "This appointment is a sign of the church being grown up and living in the real world.
The priest has a ministry to offer and clearly there is a welcome for him in his parish."
The unnamed priest said he is adhering to church rules that prohibit gay priests from sexual activity.
Little opposition is expected from parishioners, the Times reports (Morgan, Times, 9/10).