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