The Episcopal Church should respond with "prayer and discernment" to the recent election of a lesbian priest as an assistant bishop of the Los Angeles diocese, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Saturday.
Although the Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore was elected earlier this month, she must be approved by a majority of Episcopal dioceses before she can be consecrated, and that could take several months, said Jefferts Schori, the church's head.
"The process isn't finished until it's finished," she said.
The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the United States. In 2003, it caused an uproar by consecrating its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
The following year, Anglican leaders asked the Episcopal Church to hold off on electing another gay bishop while they tried to prevent a permanent break in the fellowship.
But in July, the U.S. church's top policy making body affirmed that gay and lesbian priests were eligible to become bishops despite pressure from other Anglicans.
The Archbishop of Canterbury called for gracious restraint on the matter, but Jefferts Schori said Saturday that "there was never any time frame attached to that request."
She added that she didn't know whether six years was long enough to wait but "the church is in the process of discerning that."
The liberal-leaning Jefferts Schori spoke at a news conference with the more conservative Rev. William C. Frey, the retired bishop of Colorado who is now assisting bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
The two were in Dallas as part of a lecture series sponsored by St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, one of the nation's largest Episcopal churches. About 600 people attended their talk.
Frey noted there have always been disagreements in the church, but with Christmas just two weeks away, he said he's praying for healing.
"We are a wounded church," he said. "There's not doubt about that, at least not in my mind.
"I pray for healing and reconciliation."