Anglican female bishop unanimous pick in India

October 3, 2013

A Christian nun who became the first woman bishop of South Asia’s Anglican community said that so far her appointment has silenced critics who believe only men can play leadership roles in the church.

Speaking on the phone from the Nandyal Diocese in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, Eggoni Pushpalalitha, who was appointed a bishop of the Church of South India on September 30, said she faced bias against women in leadership roles “but only until my consecration.”

“Those who used to talk about it are now touching my feet,” said the 57-year-old bishop, who holds degrees in economics and divinity, referring to an Indian custom of showing respect.

A day before her consecration, she told an Indian newspaper: “Be it any institution, women are always given second-rung treatment. We need to change that by promoting values that teach us to not discriminate and treat all humans the same.”

The Church of South India, successor of the Church of England in India, has been ordaining women as priests since 1976.

The denomination has nearly 4.3 million members in India and Sri Lanka. The CSI is a union of varying traditions, including Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian and Reformed.

Three other candidates, all men, were also in the running for bishop. —RNS

This article was edited on October 11, 2013.