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Lesbian candidate in the mix for Chicago bishop job

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The Very Rev. Tracy Lind is one of five finalists, three of which are women. If she wins the election she would be only the second openly gay Episcopal bishop.,”Chicago's Episcopal Church announced last week the nomination of an openly lesbian candidate in their search for a new bishop.

The Very Rev. Tracy Lind is one of five finalists, three of which are women. If she wins the election she would be only the second openly gay Episcopal bishop.

"Chicago is a highly diverse diocese and all five of the candidates are well qualified," said the Rev. Debra Trakel, rector for St. James Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, 833 W. Wisconsin Ave. She added she thought Lind would be a strong leader for Chicago.

According to the Web site for Integrity, the advocate group for gay and lesbian rights in the Episcopal Church, there have been many openly gay and lesbian ordained ministers. In 2003, Gene Robinson was elected the church's first gay bishop.

In the Episcopal Church, gay and lesbian marriage rights are a very roundly discussed issue and currently are not allowed or disallowed by the church, Trakel said.

While the Episcopal Church does offer full acceptance to gay and lesbian members of the community, there are no dioceses that currently allow same-sex marriages, the Integrity Web site said.

"I believe that religious candidates should be measured and evaluated based on qualifications irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or race," Trakel said.

Trakel said Lind's road toward nomination has been very long and extensive, as she has emerged as one of five finalists from a pack of nearly 200 people.

According to Trakel, the process of electing new bishops generally takes a year and a half to two years. During these election years candidates are narrowed down by interviews, recommendations and lots of "prayer and discernment," she said.

An official ruling has not been made in the Milwaukee diocese and, according to Trakel, the Episcopalian bishop of Milwaukee, the Right Rev. Steven Andrew Miller, is planning on waiting for higher church officials to make a decision.

The Rev. John Laurance, an associate professor and chair of the Theology department, said the Catholic Church would not elect a lesbian bishop. He cited the extensive number of changes that would be required for women, let alone openly gay and lesbian leaders, to be elected as church leaders.

An election decision will be made in Chicago Nov. 10 after the candidates meet with members of the diocese and a diocesan convention is held.

"The Holy Spirit is blowing in Chicago," Trakel said.

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The student news site of Marquette University
Lesbian candidate in the mix for Chicago bishop job