US Anglicans head closer to second openly gay bishop

An openly gay priest has received more than the required majority of consents to be confirmed as bishop, the Diocese of Los Angeles reported Wednesday.

According to an unofficial tally, the Rev Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool has received 61 nods from standing committees in The Episcopal Church. Only 56 are required for confirmation.

"I give thanks for the Standing Commitees’ prompt action," said the Bishop of Los Angeles, J Jon Bruno. "I look forward to the final few consents to come in from the bishops in the next few days, and I give thanks for the fact that we as a church have taken a bold step for just action."

The presiding bishop's office has yet to verify the count.

Glasspool, who has been with her lesbian partner since 1988, was elected in December to the office of bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Consents to her election would make Glasspool the second openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church, after V Gene Robinson of New Hampshire whose consecration in 2003 caused uproar.

Dr Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion – of which The Episcopal Church is the US branch – had expressed concerns over Glasspool's election in light of the Communion-wide moratorium on the consecration of bishops living in a same-gender union.

Since the 2003 consecration of Robinson, relationships between The Episcopal Church and much of the Anglican Communion have been strained or in some cases, impaired. Just after Glasspool's election, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion called for "gracious restraint in respect of actions that endanger the unity" of the global body.

The Most Rev Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, said earlier that confirmation of Glasspool's election "will make clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the TEC (The Episcopal Church) leadership has chosen to walk in a way which is contrary to Scripture and will continue to do so".

"This settled path that the TEC chooses is contrary to the expressed will of the majority of the Anglican Communion," he noted.

Despite the calls for restraint from Anglicans worldwide, Los Angeles Bishop Bruno has pushed for support for Glasspool.

"To not consent [Glasspool's election] in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads," Bruno commented earlier. "At our last General Convention, we said we are nondiscriminatory."

Last July, The Episcopal Church's highest legislative body adopted a resolution opening the ordination process to all baptised members, which would include practising homosexuals.

Pending completion of the consent process, the ordination and consecration of Glasspool is scheduled for May 15.