The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion called the approval of an openly lesbian bishop in the United States "regrettable."
"It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded," reads a statement released Thursday by Lambeth Palace, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury,
The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – gave the green light this week for the consecration of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, who has been with her lesbian partner since 1988.
After her election in December to the office of bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles, she received the required majority of consents from diocesan bishops and standing committees. The consent process was deemed successful and complete by the presiding bishop's office, according to an announcement Wednesday.
While the news was met with joy by some, the Archbishop of Canterbury's office warned that the outcome of the consent process would have "important implications" for the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church caused uproar in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop. Relations with the wider communion have been strained or impaired, in some cases, since then. When Glasspool was elected last year, the standing committee of the Anglican Communion – the third largest Christian body in the world – called for "gracious restraint in respect of actions that endanger the unity" of the communion. Anglican leaders worldwide agreed to uphold existing moratoria on the ordination of partnered homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Some say the latest approval for a second noncelibate homosexual bishop makes it clear that the U.S. body will continue its departure from Christian and Anglican tradition.
The Rt. Rev. Peter F. Jensen, archbishop of Sydney, said the Anglican Communion has reached "another decisive moment."
"It is now absolutely clear to all that the national Church itself has formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture," Jensen lamented. "The election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was not an aberration to be corrected in due course. It was a true indication of the heart of the Church and the direction of its affairs."
Los Angeles Bishop the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno sees the confirmation of Glasspool as progress from the time the first woman was elected to be deputy to General Convention and refused her seat.
"I'm overjoyed," he said. "We're going to go ahead with a fabulous ordination and consecration ... and we're going to celebrate the fact that just action has occurred."
"We as the people of Los Angeles have stuck our neck out a little bit, risked," he stated. "But what we did is we elected the two best people, the people that the Holy Spirit chose to work with me and my ministry as bishop of Los Angeles."
"I will cherish calling them bishop and colleague," he said of Glasspool and the Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, who was also confirmed to serve as assistant bishop.
The ordination and consecration of the two women will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center on May 15.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be engaging in "further consultation" about the implications and consequences of the approval of Glasspool.