The next step in the slow break-up (or whatever it is) between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communication appears to be underway.
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has elected a lesbian priest as a bishop. If U.S. church leaders affirm the decision and the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool (that’s her) is consecrated, well, the chain reaction is pretty easy to foresee.
In fact, it’s already started.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, normally a cautious fellow, has already released this statement:
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.
The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That 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.
Of course, it was the consecration of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003 that really highlighted the growing divide between the Episcopal Church and much of the Anglican Communion over homosexuality.
As has been reported ad nauseum since then, Episcopalians are much more liberal on these matters than many of their Anglican brethren overseas.
Episcopal leaders decided in 2006 to try to refrain from picking any more gay bishops for a while. But they said “oh forget it, we’ll do what we want” this past July.
So we’ll see what happens.
As I often say at the end of these Episcopal break-up posts, it’s all much ado about nothing here in the Diocese of New York, where bishops, most priests and most parishioners are gay-friendly, proud of it and largely disinterested in doing anything to please their would-be detractors.
The diocese’s statement about gay marriage being defeated by the NYS Senate last week included this: “In calling your senators and in continuing to advocate, be sure to let them know that the Episcopal Diocese of New York remains on the record as supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples, as per our resolution at the 2008 Diocesan Convention. Although the governor and the senate leaders were told of this, we should continually remind them as we go forward, so as to balance out the voices of other religious groups that fought against marriage equality.”