Calif. diocese might elect gay bishop

March 6, 2006 at 4:24 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, March 6 (UPI) -- An Episcopal diocese in California could select the church's second openly gay bishop.

A homosexual man and a lesbian, both in long-term relationships with same-sex partners, are among the five finalists to be bishop of California, the San Jose Mercury-News reports. The diocese has 81 churches in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

The election in 2003 of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire divided the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion. Many Anglicans, especially in the large churches in some African countries, adamantly oppose the ordination of non-celibate gay priests.

Cynthia Brust, a spokeswoman for the American Anglican Council, said that electing a gay bishop in California, and even considering gays as finalists, shows defiance toward sister churches overseas.

"The message is, we don't care about being part of the Anglican Communion,'' Brust said.

The diocese selects its bishop May 6. The choice must be ratified by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

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