LOS ANGELES - The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has elected a lesbian as assistant bishop, the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship, which is already deeply fractured over the first.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, said yesterday that the choice raised "very serious questions" for the divided church, and urged restraint.
The Rev. Mary Glasspool, of Baltimore, needs approval from a majority of dioceses across the church before she can be consecrated as assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.
Still, her victory Saturday underscored a continued Episcopal commitment to accepting same-sex relationships despite enormous pressure from other Anglicans to change their stand.
"Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice and equal rights," Glasspool said in a statement, thanking the diocese for having chosen her.
The head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is scheduled to consecrate Glasspool on May 15 in Los Angeles, if the church accepts the vote.
The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Breakaway Episcopal conservatives have formed a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America. Several overseas Anglicans have been pressuring Williams to officially recognize the new conservative entity.
In 2004, Anglican leaders asked the Episcopal Church for a moratorium on electing another gay bishop while they tried to prevent a permanent break in the fellowship.
Since the request was made, some Episcopal gay priests have been nominated for bishop, but none was elected before Glasspool. Last July, the Episcopal General Convention, the U.S. church's top policy-making body, affirmed that gay and lesbian priests were eligible to become bishops.