Episcopal bishop ordains lesbian to the priesthood


WASHINGTON -- In an action that is certain to provoke new debate over homosexuality and the clergy, the Episcopal bishop of Washington ordained a lesbian to the priesthood yesterday.

The Rev. Elizabeth L. Carl was ordained at the Church of the Epiphany, where she is an assisting minister.

The bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Ronald H. Haines, said that Ms. Carl, 44, "has for a number of years openly lived in a loving and intimate relationship with another woman," with whom she has made "a lifelong and monogamous commitment."

The bishop acknowledged that "ordination of one whose lifestyle involves sexual relations outside of marriage troubles me greatly."

But when a candidate has persistently displayed "strength, leadership, spirituality, intellect, moral understanding and commitment to Christ," the bishop said, "reservation regarding the candidate's sexuality and lifestyle" should not "by itself be an absolute bar to ordination."

Episcopal canon law does not prohibit ordination of homosexuals. Next month, the denomination's General Convention is to reconsider a 1979 resolution against ordaining sexually active homosexuals.

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