Like so many in The Episcopal Church and around the world, I am thrilled by the election of the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as the next Presiding Bishop and Primate of our church. Not just because she is a woman, but because she is a leader. Smart. Confident. Poised. Articulate. I listened to the interview of her on NPR yesterday, and she was totally on point and unflappable. The gifts she brings as a trilingual scientist, educator, and westerner will transform our church. I'm still amazed that our bishops actually elected the most qualified person.
I, like many in our Church, was also disappointed by her support of B033 on the last day of General Convention. I'm mindful, however, of the truth my colleague Kitty Lehman+ rightly points out: women are the thin edge of the wedge of inclusion in Church and society. And +Katharine is now precariously balanced on that knife edge. She has made herself very vulnerable for the sake of God's mission of reconciliation in Christ. This presents many opportunites and many dangers for her and for us. She needs to be held accountable, but she will also need massive support and prayer to carry the difficult burden that we must not let her bear alone.
In her public comments since GC, she has stated unequivocally that B033 was unfortunate and inadequate, that the temporary moratorium on lesbian or gay bishops saddens her, and that she will refuse to allow the door to be shut on the matter. I trust her. I believe her when she says she is committed to the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the Church. Our current Presiding Bishop might say "we are committed:" +Katharine is willing to put her personal word and integrity on the line. I have to respect that level of vulnerability and honesty.
Bishop Barbara Harris, the mother of us all, has written a terrific article on +Katharine's election in The Witness. I commend it to you. I was most touched by +Barbara's closing words: "Women bishops of the Episcopal Church have pledged that she [+Katharine] will never be unescorted, unprotected and unsupported wherever she goes in the Anglican Communion and in the ecumenical or interfaith community." May we all pledge that same level of commitment. She is going to need it.