Anglicans in Canada have been continuing a period of discernment and conversations over human sexuality issues. And so far, they have agreed to respect a commitment they made years ago against the ordination of partnered homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said the church body remains mindful of its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion and committed to the 2008 decision to practice restraint in regards to homosexual matters while at the same time exercising "the greatest level of pastoral generosity."
"We have not as a house revisited or altered that decision in any way," he said, as he addressed members of the General Synod – the chief legislative body – over the weekend.
Though the body, representing some 800,000 Anglicans, currently remains committed to the moratoria that Anglican leaders worldwide have agreed to a number of times since 2004, dioceses within the Anglican Church of Canada have already permitted the blessing of same-sex unions.
Among them are the Diocese of New Westminster and the Diocese of Huron.
Their actions have left conservative Anglicans, particularly those in the Global South, grieving and frustrated that the morotoria have not been honored. In April, some 130 Anglicans from 20 provinces were urged to reconsider their relationships with the Anglican Church of Canada as well as with The Epsicopal Church in the United States, which ordained its second partnered homosexual last month.
Over the past several years, dozens of parishes have voted to split from the Anglican Church of Canada, citing the denomination's departure from Christian orthodox values and Anglican tradition. The Canadian body also lost one of its most renowned members, theologian J.I. Packer, in 2008.
The body in Canada is continuing dialogue on the controversial matter this week and Hiltz has expressed support in practicing "a properly Christian style of inclusiveness."
Still, he has acknowledged the diversity of opinion and suggested that the General Synod may not come out with a definitive resolution, but rather a call to continue talks.
“Instead of a winner-take-all statement, maybe we can be on two different sides here,” he said, according to the Toronto Star.
Hiltz noted in his opening address last week to the Synod that the majority of Anglicans in Canada – no matter their theological position on homosexuality – are committed to "respectful dialogue" and less interested in a resolution or heated debate.
"I ask all members of Synod to enter into these conversations in a Spirit of humility and a genuine commitment to listen and to learn from one another," he said. "I know that 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. ... I hope they see us striving to live together with difference and to do it gracefully."
Representatives from committees that have deliberated on human sexuality since 2007 reported to the General Synod that their work has included "creating opportunities to step away from the hotly debated issues of same-sex blessings and engage in the more general topic of human sexuality."
Synod members will work toward forming a pastoral statement on human sexuality. The General Synod concludes Friday.