A report issued recently by the Episcopal Church does not bar election of the best candidate as bishop of the Diocese of California whether or not that person is lesbian, straight, or gay, the leader of the diocese’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ministry, Oasis/California, has announced.

“Of most interest to the Diocese of California is the report’s call for ‘nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion,’” Oasis/California president Rev John Kirkley said.

“Exercising caution when electing a bishop is always wise counsel; it should not mean ignoring the church’s canons protecting all Episcopalians against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation,” he added.

“Electing a woman as bishop would present a challenge to large parts of the Anglican Communion, but most Episcopalians would not vote against a female candidate just because she is a woman. The unity of the Anglican Communion can not be based on scapegoating women or gay and lesbian people.”

Oasis/California commended the report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion for its commitment to “maintain the highest degree of communion possible” between the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion, while at the same time refusing to scapegoat lesbian and gay people.

“On the whole, the report offers a way for our church to maintain the bonds of communion with other Anglican provinces, and press for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people,” Mr Kirkley stated.

“It is only one part of an ongoing conversation that will continue at General Convention in June and beyond. It offers one word, not the final word in this conversation. I’m sure it will bear improvement as it is considered more fully.”

The Commission’s report includes eleven resolutions for consideration by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June. These include resolutions endorsing the U.N. Millennium goals to address abject poverty worldwide, affirming human rights protections for gay and lesbian people, and recognising the full and equal claim of gay and lesbian people as baptized members of the church while also repenting of the church’s rejection of gay and lesbian people.

“There is much good in this report and we should be grateful for the hard work of the Commission. I believe it will provide the basis for progressives and moderates to move the church forward,” Mr Kirkley concluded.

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