Guest Author - Jason P. Ruel
The Episcopal Church may once again be in an uproar. Soon, the election for a new Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark will be announced. One of the six candidates for the position is an openly gay Canon Michael Barlowe. Barlowe, 51, is sure to cause an uproar if he is considered, well elected, to the position. While his sexual orientation should not be a consideration for the position of Bishop, the knowledge of his sexual orientation and with the election of the Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the media, the country, the world, and most importantly, the Church will be watching.
Recently, according to the USA Today, the Episcopal General Convention, the church's body/committee in charge of such important and high-reaching matters, voted on the issue to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration" of candidates "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church." Even though the measure is not binding, it is far reaching and with major implications.
The real question is how can this possible election hurt or help the Episcopal Church? On one hand it will be affirming that GLBT people can and are part of the spiritual world. GLBT people can and will be part of the hierarchy of the Church. However, with people having different viewpoints of homosexuality and differing interpretations of biblical text, there is always the risk of a schism within a faith community. For those who believe that homosexuality is an abomination or unnatural, the promotion of an openly-gay Canon to the position of Bishop would be a slap in the face to what they believe. To those who believe that their clergy are to live a pious life and those sexual relations outside the sanctity of marriage or for procreation, the promotion of Cannon Barlowe would also be a slap in the face.
However, what people fail to realize is that the person who is the best for the position should get it. It does not matter what a person’s sexual orientation is. The real question these people should be asking is if the candidate will adequately meet the spiritual needs of the followers. Will they meet the needs of those who are under them? Does this person have adequate leadership abilities? Should this person even be a candidate? These are the questions that should matter, not whom they sleep with if they sleep with anyone at all.
This is something to keep a close eye on. GLBT people are making strives in this world, and this is another example. Good luck Canon Michael Barlowe.
BellaOnline's Gay Lesbian Editor