"Prayer and discernment" are needed as Episcopal leaders decide whether to confirm the election of a partnered lesbian as bishop suffragan, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said.
The head of the about 2 million-member denomination provided a limited response to the recent election of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Glasspool, who has been with her partner for 19 years, must be approved as an assistant bishop by the bishops and standing committees of The Episcopal Church's other 108 dioceses within 120 days.
"The process isn't finished until it's finished," Jefferts Schori said Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
The Episcopal leader made her comments at a news conference in Dallas just after delivering a lecture on "Who is Christ" alongside a more conservative bishop – the Rt. Rev. William Frey – at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
Jefferts Schori, who has previously said that Jesus is not the only way to God and heaven, presented a carefully worded paper Saturday morning, mentioning only once the urgency for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in all structures of the church, as observed by Cheryl M. Wetzel, editor of The Anglican Voice.
During the lecture, she stated, "The challenges of our current age include the ancient human desire to find a scapegoat, with the familiar targets in this society right now being Muslims and immigrants and gay people. Jesus' own witness is to continually reject that kind of response, for it always ends in violence and diminution of life," as reported by The Dallas Morning News.
The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – widened rifts in the global body when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in 2003. In an effort to prevent schism, Anglican leaders from across the Communion, including those in the United States, in 2006 passed a resolution urging restraint concerning the election of bishops whose "manner of life" – namely partnered homosexuals – would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion.
But this past July, The Episcopal Church's highest legislative body adopted a resolution opening the ordination process to all baptized members, including practicing homosexuals.
During Saturday's event, Jefferts Schori said "there was never any time frame attached" to the request to practice restraint.
A number of Episcopal leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Charles Alley of St. Matthew's in Richmond and the Very Rev. Anthony Clark of The Cathedral of St. Luke in Orlando, released a joint statement last week distancing themselves from the Diocese of Los Angeles' action to elect a partnered lesbian.
"With the election of a non-celibate lesbian priest as Bishop Suffragan, the Diocese of Los Angeles has demonstrated its belief that membership in an international communion of churches is less important than unilaterally proceeding with an agenda of sexual liberation," reads the statement, which urges bishops across the denomination to withhold consent for the consecration of Glasspool.
"We believe that this action is contrary to the best interest of the Episcopal Church and the health of the wider Anglican Communion. Where restraint has been respectfully requested by the leadership of the Communion, this action by the Diocese of Los Angeles is provocative, defiant and uncharitable."