Controversy over female bishop unfounded

There was something unfortunate about the election Sunday of a Nevada woman as the chief pastor of the Episcopal Church in the United States, and it had nothing to do with her qualifications.

By all accounts, Katharine Jefferts Schori has lived an exemplary life, revitalizing the 37 churches in the state and reaching out to minority groups.

The unfortunate part is the controversy over her gender.

Her election is expected to cause rifts in the Episcopal Church, although it's hard to say why. Jefferts Schori is not even the first woman to achieve a high rank in the church - New Zealand and Canada also have female bishops.

Her list of duties includes nothing that will make her gender a handicap. In fact, we can't even think of a duty that would fit in that category. She'll be responsible for representing the church in meetings with other Anglican leaders and with leaders of other religious groups. Her power is limited because of the democratic nature of the church.

Episcopal bishops elected her with 95 votes at a gathering on Sunday. The other 93 votes were split between six men.

So, in light of all of this, we're having a hard time understanding the controversy.

Think of the alternative: The church's bishops could look past the most qualified candidate and select the most-qualified man. Maybe while they're at it, they could even rescind the rights of female church members to vote.

But, frankly, that's the type of time machine that's best left uninvented.


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