The Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, is criticizing the weekend election of a lesbian to serve as assisting bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles and urging American church leaders not to confirm her selection.
The Rt. Re. J. Jon Bruno, the Episcopalian bishop of Los Angeles, countered that he would fight for the woman's consecration and argued that the U.S. church can confirm who it pleases, regardless of how Williams feels about it.
"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," the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, wrote in a weekend statement.
He pointed out that Glasspool's selection must be confirmed by leaders of the U.S. church before she can be consecrated as an assistant bishop and added: "That decision will have very important implications."
It was an uncommonly sharp rebuke from the 59-year-old Welshman, a liberal who has struggled in recent years to keep the Anglican Communion from fraying hopelessly over the support of thousands of Americans for the consecration of gay bishops.
The controversy was touched off in 2003, when the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire.
Glasspool, 55, a canon in the Episcopalian Diocese of Maryland who has been in a lesbian relationship for two decades, was elected Saturday during the Los Angeles diocese's annual convention in Riverside.
A day earlier, another woman, the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53, reader of St. Clement's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, was selected to serve as another suffragan bishop in Los Angeles.
In confirmed, Bishop and Glasspool will be the first women bishops in the 114-year history of the Los Angeles diocese.
Glasspool must gain a majority of votes from Episcopal bishops and standing committees of clergy and lay leaders over the coming months.
Bruno, the bishop of Los Angeles, appeared to dismiss Williams' appeal.
"I don't foresee how an autonomous Episcopal Church should be influenced by other people's fear of sexuality or homosexuality," Bruno said in remarks reported by the Los Angeles Times.
"I'm moving forward completely dedicated to Diane Jardine Bruce and to Mary Glasspool, a woman who happens to be a lesbian. I have an obligation as the bishop of Los Angeles to do what my people call me to do ... to support Mary Glasspool and help her become confirmed."