Kirker has fought for acceptance of gays in the church for thirty years, and his input and influence will be missed by Christians and nonbelievers alike, since he has admirers on both sides of that divide.
According to an article by Martin Revis published by the Ekklesia religious think tank, Kirker "believes that if the worldwide Anglican communion separates over homosexuality, the onus of responsibility will fall upon 'those who walked away' ".
"If we are in any way held responsible for a schism," says Kirker, "then so be it. But I think the onus should be on those who choose to walk apart. We have never asked those who disagree with us to leave the church."
Kirker, who is to hand over the role of the movement's chief executive to the Rev. Sharon Ferguson on 31 August, said, "If there is some sort of schism or temporary separation, then it will be a healthy reflection of reality, and the truthfulness of what we have been saying will emerge without any reasonable doubt. It would only show up in stark relief the reality of what we have been saying all along, that the church is a place of much homophobia."
In a recent New Statesman interview, cited in Ekklesia's article, Kirker said, "Life for gay priests is immeasurably worse than when I started doing this job, because of the obsessive scrutiny of those who hate us. Many people have given up the fight and left the priesthood [. . .] It is now official policy to ensure that gay people who don't give a commitment to celibacy are not selected for ordination."
The person taking over from Richard Kirker is a woman. Oh, dear! While women have fared far better in the Church of England since they were so graciously allowed to become priests, there's still bigotry, chauvinism and misogyny from the men in frocks.