Anglican chief rebukes Marylander's election
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a sharp rebuke of the election Saturday of Marylander Mary D. Glasspool as the first openly lesbian bishop in the worldwide Anglican communion.
“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,” Rowan Williams, head of the Protestant denomination, said in a statement released Sunday.
“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.”
Glasspool, canon to the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, was elected bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles on Saturday. The Annapolis resident is to be installed in May, pending the consent of the bishops and standing committees of the 108 other Episcopal dioceses of the United States.
In a release, Bishop of Los Angeles J. Jon Bruno said the denial of consent “would be a violation of the canons of this church. At our last General Convention, we said we are nondiscriminatory.”
Bruno, whom Glasspool would assist as bishop suffragan, acknowledged rumors of a concerted effort not to give consent over her sexuality. Glasspool has been in a committed relationship with her partner for two decades.
"I would remind the Episcopal church and the House of Bishops they need to be conscientious about respecting the canons of the church and the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being,” Bruno said. “To not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads."
Glasspool would be the first openly gay bishop chosen since the 2003 election of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire brought a longstanding divide over homosexuality within the church out into the open.
“I’m very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future,” Glasspool, 55, told delegates at the diocese’s annual convention. “Thanks be to our loving, surprising God. I look forward, in the coming months, to getting to know you all better, as together we build up the Body of Christ for the world.”
Ordained in 1981, Glasspool served in parishes in Philadelphia and Boston and St. Margaret’s in Annapolis before becoming canon to the bishops in 2001, according to the release. She has served on the diocese’s Standing Committee, the board of Episcopal Community Services of Maryland, and has been elected four times to head the deputation to General Convention.
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland, offered congratulations.
“This is a great day in the life of the Episcopal Church,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “I have often said that the staff of the Diocese of Maryland is one of the finest in the Church. When one of its members is called to other important positions in the church, then all of us are honored. As canon to the bishops since 2001, Mary has distinguished herself as a faithful and gifted priest who is well prepared to assume the mantle of leadership incumbent upon a bishop.”
Glasspool’s election comes months after the Episcopal General Convention, the principal governing body of the church in the United States, voted to declare homosexuals eligible for any ordained ministry and began writing prayers to bless gay unions.
A smaller group has broken away to form the Anglican Church of North America, a conservative body seeking separate recognition within the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Vatican, meanwhile, has announced plans to make it easier for disaffected conservative Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.