Archbishop of Canterbury warns on election of U.S. lesbian bishop

Published December 7, 2009

New York
The election of an openly lesbian priest, who lives with her partner, as a bishop in the U.S. Episcopal (Anglican) Church is likely to cause further problems in the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said.”The election of Mary Glasspool by the diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan [assistant] bishop-elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole,” said Archbishop Williams, the leader of the 77-million Anglican Communion, in a Dec. 6 statement.Archbishop Williams noted that Rev. Glasspool’s election the previous day still has, “to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees.”  He said the decision “will have very important implications.”The election in 2003 of V. Gene Robinson, who lives with a long-time male partner, as bishop of the U.S. state of New Hampshire in 2003 caused a furore in the Anglican Communion, which counts the 2.1 million-member Episcopal Church as its U.S. branch.In a statement from Australia, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, said that confirmation of Rev. Glasspool’s election, “will make clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the [Episcopal Church] leadership has chosen to walk in a way which is contrary to scripture and will continue to do so.”It would also, he said, give Williams “every reason to act decisively and dissociate from the [U.S.] Episcopal Church”.Archbishop Jensen is general secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a group that states it opposes, “revisionist theology which has become so prevalent in the West.”Many Anglicans, particularly in the Global South where their numbers are growing rapidly, say homosexuality is sinful and unbiblical.Numerous Anglicans and four U.S. dioceses have broken ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church since Bishop Robinson’s election in New Hampshire.Archbishop Williams noted in his statement that Anglican bishops had urged the Episcopal Church to act with restraint on any further moves promoting openly gay prelates.”The bishops of the [Anglican] 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,” said Williams.The Anglican leader’s comments were condemned by Rev. Susan Russell, the immediate past president of Integrity USA, an Episcopal gay advocacy group, who said that Williams’ statement “was fanning the flames of homophobia.”


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