More than 40 clergy in the Diocese of St Albans have signed a letter signalling their support for the appointment of an openly homosexual dean.

The letter, which can be viewed by visiting the diocese's web site, said the 47 signatories wanted to express their excitement and joy' at the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John, who claims to be celibate but is in favour of same-sex relationships.

The letter said: "We see nothing in his appointment, his lifestyle or his views that contradict scripture, tradition and reason, and hope that, in the long run, those who find the appointment hard will be able to engage in a sensible and rational discussion of the issue of homosexuality, which we do not see as one to impair the unity of our diocese."

The appointment has met with different reactions, including some harsh opposition. A church in Barnet, Holy Trinity Lyonsdown, has refused to pay its annual quota to the diocese in protest against the appointment.

Visit the web site at to view the letter.