By Peter J. Smith
LOS ANGELES, December 7, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The breach in the worldwide Anglican Communion is continuing to widen in the wake of the US Episcopal Church's decision to ordain an open lesbian as bishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool of Baltimore, who is living with her homosexual partner, was narrowly elected on the seventh ballot to serve as a suffragan, or assistant bishop, of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. She will become the first lesbian bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion once she is installed as scheduled in May.
The decision comes as a severe blow to Archbishop Williams, leader of the 77 million Anglican Communion, who has urged the Episcopal Church re-enter “a period of gracious restraint” on ordaining active homosexuals, warning that such restraint is “necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.”
Williams still holds out hope that Glasspool will not be installed, pointing out that her election must still be confirmed or rejected by “diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees” in the United States.
The Anglican Communion had urged the Episcopal Church to accept a moratorium on electing homosexual bishops after the consecration of New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, as part of deal designed to prevent the church from fracturing into irrevocable schism.
But the Episcopal Church has forged ahead, rejecting those requests. They have done so despite strong warnings from the bishops of Africa, which continent demographically dominates the Communion, that they would vote to have the Episcopal Church expelled for violating the moratorium.
Although the Episcopal Church claims just 2.3 million members, it finances approximately one-third of the Anglican Communion's total international budget, and its departure would have serious financial repercussions.
If the controversial appointment is accepted by the US bishops, the leader of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts-Schiori, will consecrate Glasspool as bishop on May 15.
“Glasspool's election is unfortunate because she has unapologetically taken sexual expression outside of the God-ordained boundary of Holy Matrimony,” said Jeff Walton, Director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy's Anglican Action Program.
“The immediate effect of Glasspool's election will, ironically, serve to benefit the rival Anglican Church in North America (AC-NA) more than anything else,” continued Walton, pointing to the fact that conservative Anglicans are increasingly demanding alternative jurisdictions in the Anglican Communion rather than remain under the Episcopal Church's jurisdiction.
Some conservative Anglicans, such as the Traditional Anglican Communion, have taken even more radical steps, successfully petitioning for reunification with the Catholic Church provided they can retain their Anglican liturgical traditions.
Other Anglicans, under the leadership of Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and the bishops of the Global South (which represents over 30 million Anglicans of the Communion), have chosen to incorporate themselves within the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). The FCA seeks to unite orthodox Anglicans under a common banner and return the Anglican Communion to traditional scripture-based teachings on morality and matters of faith.
Glasspool's consecration will place heavy pressure on Archbishop Williams finally to expel the US Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, and recognize the rival AC-NA, which has petitioned Lambeth Palace for official recognition of its competing jurisdiction as more and more conservative Episcopalians and their parishes swell its membership.
“Unfortunately, this election provides further clarity to the rest of the Anglican Communion,” Bishop David Anderson, president and CEO of the American Anglican Council, an AC-NA affiliate, told Anglican commentator David Virtue. “Should the rest of The Episcopal Church consent to this election, there can be no more pretending that The Episcopal Church holds to Anglican Communion doctrine and 2,000 years of biblically based Christian teachings.”
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