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Anglican Canadians discuss same-sex blessings

Anglican Canadians discuss same-sex blessings

The head of Canada's Anglican Church appealed Friday to hundreds of bishops, priests and lay people to not let the thorny issue of same-sex unions further divide the church or take on the rancor of the past.
Rev. Fred Hiltz, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said Friday at the opening of the General Synod that he hopes the meeting will produce a pastoral statement on the issue that could lay out the church's position on same-sex blessings.
"I know our deliberations on these matters will be watched by many within Canada and around the world. I hope they see no evidence of rejection, condemnation or demonization but every evidence of respect, charity and patience," he said at the triennial gathering in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bitter debates about whether or not to bless the relationships of same-sex couples has led to strained relations within the church, and the defection of dozens of theologically conservative congregations around the world.
The 80-million member Anglican Communion, Christianity's third largest denomination, traces its roots to the Church of England. Most of the world's Anglicans are theological conservatives who believe gay relationships violate Scripture. More liberal Anglicans emphasize social justice teachings in the Bible, leading them to support full acceptance of same-sex couples.
Christian denominations in the United States have struggled to remain united in the face of this debate. In 2003, the 2 million-member Episcopal Church of the United States, the Anglican body in the U.S., consecrated its first openly gay bishop, a move that alienated American Episcopalians from its worldwide parent church, the Anglican Communion. The divide has led to the formation of the more conservative Anglican Church in North America, which claims 100,000 members.
In Canada, only two Anglican dioceses allow same-sex blessings. Canada's Anglican Church has approximately 1 million members.
At the last General Synod in 2007, Canadian Anglicans narrowly voted against letting priests bless same-sex marriages, but they also agreed the blessings do not conflict with their church's core doctrine, a step opposing sides agreed could open the door to such ceremonies in the future.
In the past, Synod delegates debated whether blessing same-sex unions was a matter of core doctrine, and if individual dioceses should have the authority to approve same-sex blessings.
But this year, Archdeacon Paul Feheley said the roughly 350 delegates will discuss the church's opinions around human sexuality to determine general themes with the possibility of crafting a pastoral statement.
"Instead of a winner-take-all statement, maybe we can be on two different sides here," he said, adding that it may lead to better communications and understanding among delegates.
Ron Chaplin, a member of the only parish in the Ottawa diocese that has the bishop's approval to conduct same-sex blessings, said he would like to see the Synod endorse an individual diocese's right to establish blessings for same-sex couples. Conservative groups are opposed.
The Anglican Church of Canada is holding its triennial gathering over the next week.


Updated : 2021-10-19 03:48 GMT+08:00