Strong reaction to ‘local option’ resolution

Published May 1, 2004

Canadian Anglicans opposed to the blessing of same-sex unions have reacted strongly to the resolution asking General Synod to affirm that such rites are within the authority and jurisdiction of the diocesan synod and its bishop.

“The direction of these motions at General Synod is bound to undermine the Lambeth Commission and its efforts at unity,” said Nancy Buan, spokesperson for the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW), a coalition of disaffected parishes formed after the diocese of New Westminster authorized same-sex blessings in 2002.

(The Lambeth Commission was formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to find ways of preserving unity within the Anglican Communion, which has been frayed by same-sex blessings in New Westminster and the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.)

“It would appear that the Canadian Anglican church is trying to have it both ways by claiming the right to autonomy in this matter while simultaneously claiming to want to belong to the world-wide Anglican Communion,” Ms. Buan added.

Archbishop John Clarke, bishop of Athabasca and Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land, expressed concern over the resolution, adding that his sentiment was “shared with a good number of the Athabasca community in four regional meetings that I hosted last week across our diocese…” In a letter issued to all parishes in the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land Archbishop Clarke called for a “moratorium” on the blessing of same-sex unions saying more time was needed for sound theological reflection on the unity of the Church and the authority of Scripture surrounding the issues of homosexuality and the blessing of same gender relationships.”

The Elmhurst Committee on Human Sexuality, a group of orthodox Anglican clergy and lay people in the diocese of Ottawa, asked the Council of General Synod, the church’s governing body between General Synods, to withdraw “this ill-conceived motion and heed the call of the global Anglican Church, as expressed through the Archbishop of Canterbury, to exercise patience and restraint with regard to this issue.”

In a statement, the Elmhurst group said approving the resolution would “allow diocesan synods to follow the four winds with respect to policy on this issue” and would also be “highly contemptuous of the publicly-expressed concerns of the majority of global Anglican leaders.”

ACiNW’s Ms. Buan also pointed out that the five-part resolution does not allow General Synod “to wrestle with the theological implications of same-sex blessings.” She said the motions address “structural issues by allowing local options but don’t address how the blessings challenge the doctrine of the Anglican church.”

She said that the parishes under ACiNW have been discussing what steps they should take should the motion be passed but that “little has been decided.”


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