Anglican Church of Canada Accepts Diversity on Same-Sex Issue

The Anglican Church of Canada agreed last week not to take any legislative action in response to differing views on same-sex blessings.

Rather, they chose to have "more conversation," said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

"That's an action," Hiltz insisted, according to the Anglican Journal.

Though the province, representing some 800,000 Anglicans, does not formally allow same-sex blessings and remains committed to the moratoria Anglican leaders worldwide agreed to in 2004, Canadian Anglicans acknowledged that a number of dioceses have already permitted the blessing of same-sex unions.

In 2003, the Diocese of New Westminster, one of 30 dioceses in the Canadian province, had heightened controversy in the global Anglican Communion when it approved the rite of blessing gay and lesbian unions.

"We acknowledge diverse pastoral practices as dioceses respond to their own missional contexts," states the Sexuality Discernment report, which the Anglican Church of Canada affirmed during its General Synod last week.

The document further reads, "There can be no imposition of a decision or action, but rather we are challenged to live together sharing in the mission of Christ entrusted to us, accepting that different local contexts call at times for different local discernment, decision and action."

Hiltz indicated on Friday, the concluding day of the synod, that the Canadian body will continue forward with diversity and in openness.

"We're not in a position to be going back to dioceses where they've made decisions one way or the other, to say, 'You must change your mind on this,'" Hiltz explained Friday, the concluding day of the synod.

"Now is not the time to force the issue by a resolution because we're not ready for that kind of step," he said.

Hailing the synod's affirmation of the Sexuality Discernment report, the primate observed, "We're no longer demonizing one another."

"We're regarding one another differently … more patiently, more graciously," he said, as reported by the Anglican Journal.

Anglicans in Canada went into the General Synod, a triennial gathering, with the resolve not to debate or vote on a resolution that bans or allows same-sex blessings. The 2010 synod was, rather, designed to encourage and continue dialogue on the controversial matter of homosexuality.

"I think the Holy Spirit has called this church out of a time when we tried to resolve so many contentious issues through resolution, heated debate, fierce confrontation, even on the floor of synod, [with] subsequent hurt and anger and frustration and discouragement," Hiltz stated during the closing session of the synod. "People should never walk away from a synod feeling that way.

The church has entered into "a new space" where they can have "robust conversations," he noted. "We try to speak the truth in love. We try to listen respectfully. And together we try to discern the Spirit's lead."

The General Synod came as The Episcopal Church in the United States was disciplined for ordaining its second openly homosexual bishop last month. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, recently informed the U.S. body that it was suspended from participating in ecumenical dialogues and stripped of decision-making powers on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order – a body that examines issues of doctrine and authority.

Kearon indicated in an announcement last week that the Anglican Communion was also keeping an eye on the Canadian body and its actions regarding same-sex blessings.