Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lesbian Priest in Running for California Bishop

(Link) Still reeling over the 2003 election of Gene Robinson (now in alcohol rehab), Episcopalians in the Diocese of California now have two queer priests opting for the top job in that state. And one of them is Rev. Bonnie Perry.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Two openly gay priests are candidates to become bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, and the election of either could worsen the rift over homosexuality in the bitterly divided church.

The Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago and the Very Rev. Robert Taylor of Seattle are among the five candidates. Both have longtime same-sex partners.

The church has been torn over the issue of gay clergy since 2003, when the Rev. Gene Robinson, who has a longtime male partner, was elected bishop of New Hampshire.

The following year, an emergency panel of the global Anglican Communion, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church and 77 million people in 164 countries, asked for a moratorium on installing bishops who are in same-sex relationships.

But each province within the Anglican Communion can make its own decisions because the group lacks a governing body like the Vatican for Roman Catholics.

"There's nothing really the Anglican Communion can do to us. But they can say they're no longer in communion with us," said Sean McConnell, spokesman for the Diocese of California.

Leaders of the Episcopal Church have apologized for the divisions caused by Robinson's elevation to bishop, but they have not expressed regret over his election.

The American Anglican Council, which advocates on behalf of traditionalists who have formed a separate network of dissenting churches, posted a strongly worded letter on its Web site opposing the two gay nominees. Conservatives believe the Bible forbids gay relationships.

"If the Episcopal Church had any intention of repentance, candidates would clearly adhere to the authority of Scripture, affirm the apostolic faith, and commit to the immediate cessation of ordination/consecration of noncelibate homosexuals as well as the blessings of same-sex unions," the letter said.

Canon David Anderson, the group's president and chief executive, said American church leaders who accept same-sex relationships "need to repent" and reconsider their decision.

The Rev. Paul Zahl, dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., said if either of the gay candidates is chosen as the new bishop, it's a "definitive thumbing of the nose at the worldwide church."

He said hundreds of Episcopalians already left the church after Robinson was consecrated and "for those who are still hanging in there, this election would be the final straw. That's no judgment on the individuals, but on the principle."

But others say the church has been rife with conflict since its beginning, often over questions of who should be accepted. "There's always been a plurality of voices," said the Rev. Ian Douglas, a professor at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.

Taylor said people will be asking "who has the capacity to be the next bishop."

"They're not going to elect someone on simply one facet of them as a human being," he said from his Seattle church.

The other three candidates are the Rt. Rev. Mark Handley Andrus, bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Alabama; the Rev. Jane Gould, rector of St. Stephen's Church in Lynn, Mass.; the Rev. Canon Eugene Taylor Sutton, canon pastor of Washington National Cathedral.

The election to replace the retiring Rev. William Swingis, the country's longest-serving bishop, is scheduled for May 6 in San Francisco.