London: A row over the appointment of a
lesbian as a bishop has plunged the worldwide Anglican Church
into a fresh crisis, amid fears that it could speed up the
process of schism in the Communion.
55-year-old Canon Mary Glasspool was elected as an
assistant bishop for the diocese of Los Angeles. Glasspool is
the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican
fellowship, which is already deeply fractured over the issue.
Gay Bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire, who
became the first gay Anglican bishop in 2003, sparked an
uproar in the communion.
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned
that the election of a lesbian bishop in the United States
raises "very serious questions" for the entire Anglican
He said the choice of Glasspool to be a suffragan in
Los Angeles had "important implications".
"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los
Angeles as suffragan 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," Dr
Williams said in a statement.
"I feel deeply ashamed that this is happening in the
Anglican Church. I think a schism is absolutely inevitable,"
Rev Rod Thomas, the leader of the conservative evangelical
group Reform and a member of the General Synod, was quoted as
saying by The Times online.
Glasspool has openly stated that she has lived with
her partner, Becki Sander, since 1988.
"Any group of people who have been oppressed because
of any one isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice
and equal rights," Glasspool was quoted as saying by the
The Anglican Communion has been on the brink of
schism, with the foundation of several conservative groups and
the departure of some parishes and even dioceses from their
home provinces, since the consecration of Bishop Robinson.
The fragile unity of the church will be further
imperilled by Glasspool's election.
It confirmed fears among evangelicals in the
70-million strong Anglican Communion that crucial votes at
last summer's General Convention of the Episcopal Church had
in effect ended the moratorium on gay bishops.
Kendall Harmon, of the conservative diocese of South
Carolina, said that the election of Canon Glasspool was
"This decision represents an intransigent embrace of a
pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world
have rejected as against biblical teaching," Harmon said.
However, campaigners for equality for lesbian and gay
Christians supported the move and said a bishop's sexuality
was a "secondary characteristic" in the qualities needed for
proclaiming the Gospel.
"This is another nail in the coffin of Christian
homophobia," said Canon Giles Fraser, Chancellor of St Paul's
and one of the founders of the liberal Inclusive Church
First Published: Sunday, December 06, 2009, 22:50