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WHEELING, Illinois - A moderate Episcopal church leader, Jeffrey Lee, has been elected Bishop of Chicago over seven other candidates, one of them an openly lesbian priest.
In a statement distributed to the more than 500 delegates before the vote, Lee said he wanted to keep a "conversation" going with conservatives on the divisive issue of gay clergy.
But he also said he stood for "the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church".
"He would be perceived as someone who is qualified for the job, but not as polarising as other candidates might have been," said Mike Stephenson of the Diocese of Chicago.
If lesbian Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, had been elected, she would have become the second bishop living with a same-sex partner in the Episcopal Church, which is name of the Anglican church in the US.
In 2003, Gene Robinson, who has a male partner, was consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire.
This move drove a wedge between conservative and liberal Anglicans and pushed the church to the brink of schism.
Lee said he supported the inclusion of lesbians and gays, but also did not exclude members who disagree with his stance. - Sapa