Canadian response asserts autonomy

Published April 1, 2007

Mississauga, Ont.
The Council of General Synod (CoGS) endorsed a response to the Windsor Report that stated Canadians will make decisions around the blessing of same-sex unions at its General Synod “mindful of the common life of the Communion and in response to the leading of the Spirit, as we see it in our own context.”

The Windsor Report, produced in 2004 by an international commission, outlined ways of healing divisions within the Anglican Communion over human sexuality. It recommended a moratorium on public rites of same-sex blessings and election of a gay person to the episcopate.

However, several members of CoGS expressed strongly that the Canadian church, like all national Anglican churches, is autonomous and needs to consider its own circumstances when making decisions.  

The response to the Windsor Report also stated that “more work should be done in examining the way authority is exercised in the Anglican Communion.” It expressed concern “about the attempt to increase the influence of bishops by giving to the Lambeth Conference and the primates’ meeting an authority not previously held.”

The report underscored the role of laity, stating, “We do not wish to see this role diminished in the membership of the Anglican Consultative Council.”

The report also:

  • noted that in response to the Windsor Report, the house of bishops in 2005 adopted a statement committing themselves to a moratorium on same-sex blessings; the diocese of New Westminster subsequently confirmed the decision by restricting same-sex blessings to the eight parishes which “as of the end of synod had, by majority vote of the parish membership, decided to ask to be places of blessing;”
  • stated that while it is preferable that Anglican provinces consult with one another on important matters, it has “never been the case that all provinces must agree before a decision is taken;”
  • stated the belief that “among  Christians of good faith, there can be legitimate differences on many issues, and we wish to protect the freedom of conscience of those with differing views.” It added that “further work needs to be done on expressing a theology of diversity, including its limits;”
  • affirmed the Windsor Report’s statement about the importance of Scripture as “a focus and means of unity,” and about the need to “re-evaluate the ways in which we have read, heard, studied and digested Scripture…”

CoGS also voted to refer the draft of An Anglican Covenant prepared by the Anglican Communion’s covenant design group for study by the dioceses, and for responses to be delivered to the director of faith, worship and ministry by Jan. 15, 2008. It also authorized the establishment of a working group that would draft a Canadian response to the covenant. (See related story)

The full text of the response can be found at


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