Anglican leaders have expressed concern over the Episcopal Church's decision to elect its second openly gay bishop.

Saturday's selection of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool to become suffragan (assistant) bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has reverberated around the world. Glasspool's ascension comes after the church lifted its moratorium on electing gay bishops in July.

In a statement issued Sunday, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the American branch, said Glasspool's election “raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.”

Glasspool must be confirmed by a majority of the church's representatives, which include bishops, clergy and lay persons. Rowan appealed for her to be rejected, saying that the “decision will have very important implications.”

“The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold,” he added.

Anglican leaders in Australia also disagreed with the results.

“I understand that homosexual people are real people who need loving commitment to Christ and helping to live faithful lives,” Rev. Robert Forsythe, bishop of the South Sydney diocese, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “But to endorse this as a leader of the church sends in my view entirely the wrong message and is inconsistent with discipleship to Christ.”

Forsythe, a vocal opponent of gay clergy, predicted Glasspool's election would permanently split the Anglican Community.

Episcopalians elected their first openly gay bishop in 2003. The selection of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire created a deep division between liberals and conservatives in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and led to a self-imposed moratorium on the election of gay bishops.

But at its general convention in July the church reversed course, voting in favor of lifting the ban. A move that has accelerated defections among conservatives who formed the Anglican Church in North America, a rival version of the Episcopal Church. Several churches have rejected the church's policy on gay clergy but say they will remain, including the Diocese of Central Florida and Dallas.

In October, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota became the first to include an openly gay candidate for bishop since the church reversed its policy on gay bishops. But after attracting few votes, the Rev. Bonnie Perry withdrew her name after the third ballot.