Episcopal Church approves consecration of first lesbian bishop
The Episcopal Church of the USA, the most liberal province within the Anglican Communion, had been under pressure not to allow the Rev Mary Glasspool to become Assistant Bishop of Los Angeles.
Its leaders had been warned personally by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, not to take any decisions that would deepen the crisis over sexuality within the worldwide church.
US Anglicans form breakaway churchBut bishops and dioceses across the national church have now approved the consecration of Miss Glasspool, after she was elected last year, and a ceremony has been scheduled for May 15th. She and the Rev Diane Bruce will become the first women bishops in Los Angeles.
Miss Glasspool, a Canon in the Diocese of Maryland who has been with her female partner since 1988, said: “I am also aware that not everyone rejoices in this election and consent, and will work, pray, and continue to extend my own hands and heart to bridge those gaps, and strengthen the bonds of affection among all people, in the Name of Jesus Christ.”
The Rt Rev Jon Bruno, the Bishop of Los Angeles, said the move showed there were no barriers within the Episcopal Church based on “gender and sexual orientation”.
The Episcopal Church was the first in the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion to defy tradition and previous agreements by senior bishops and elect an openly homosexual bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, in 2003.
Since then many traditionalists in the Episcopal Church, who believe that homosexual acts go against Scripture, have become aligned to conservative provinces in Africa and formed a breakaway movement, triggering bitter court battles over the use of church buildings.
There have been calls for the Episcopal Church to be expelled from the Communion or banned from conferences over its actions, but it seems more likely that more orthodox Anglicans will simply desert it.
The Most Rev Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, said: “With the election of the Reverend Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a Bishop in Los Angeles in The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion reaches another decisive moment.
"It is now absolutely clear to all that the national Church itself has formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture. The election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was not an aberration to be corrected in due course. It was a true indication of the heart of the Church and the direction of its affairs.”
He claimed that traditionalists who have “patiently” remained within the Episcopal Church in recent years are likely to “distance themselves from those who have chosen to walk in the path of disobedience”.