Like their U.S. neighbors, Canadian Anglicans are facing a crisis over homosexuality. Delegates passed a resolution just before the final gavel to affirm the "integrity and sanctity" of committed same-sex relationships when they met in June in St. Catharines, Ontario.
The vote came a day after the 300 delegates to General Synod, which meets every three years, had agreed to defer the question of blessing same-sex unions until 2007 while a theological commission studies whether the issue is a matter of doctrine.
Lauded by liberals as a step toward full acceptance of gay unions in the church, the decision to affirm gay unions was quickly followed by a strong statement from nine conservative bishops. They said, "General Synod's opinion is in error and contrary to the teaching of Scripture and the tradition of the undivided Church."
The problem is with the word sanctity. Garth Bulmer, the priest who made the motion, says he was using the word "not in a technical, theological sense so much as a pastoral sense." But to Archbishop Drexel Gomez, primate of the West Indies, the word sanctity is the same as holiness and should be reserved for marriage. Within hours of the decision Gomez sent a message to conservative Anglicans saying, "It is completely unacceptable to Bible-believing orthodox Christians that same-sex unions are described as 'holy.'"
Anglican Essentials, a 10-year-old coalition of orthodox Anglicans who worked behind the scenes in encouraging synod delegates to approach issues from a biblical perspective, also issued a statement, saying they "repudiate and distance" themselves from the decision. "Sanctity equals blessing," says Charlie Masters, Essentials national director.
Essentials leaders are urging conservative Anglicans not to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, however, but to work from within.
Also at General Synod, delegates elected a new primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, to head the national church. Hutchison has liberal views on homosexual unions but said he hopes to work with all sides in an effort to keep the church together. Hutchison favors same-sex blessings but not same-sex marriage.
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Christianity Today's other recent articles on the Anglican crisis include:
A Slow Exodus | Disaffected orthodox Episcopalians start new ministries. (May 27, 2004)
An Anglican Rorschach Test | Conservatives and liberals fide hope in statement. (Dec. 02, 2003)
Canadian Anglicans Face Off | Bishops hold charges against dissenting clergy, but division and suspicion abound. (Dec. 09, 2003)
The Gay Bishop's Global Fallout | How each of the 39 provinces in the Anglican Communion have responded to Sunday's consecration. (Nov. 07, 2003)
Translating the Anglican Primates | Interpretations vary widely on what last week's statement means, how forceful it was, and what's next. (Oct. 21, 2003)
One-and-One-Half Cheers for the Anglican Primates' Statement | An interview with theologian—and longtime Anglican—J. I. Packer (Oct. 17, 2003)
Dispatch: Conservatives Just Got Clobbered | Last week's American Anglican Council meeting in Texas announced victory prematurely (Oct. 17, 2003)
Weblog: Early Responses to the Anglican Primates' Statement | Both sides seem happy as the Episcopal Church USA promises to go ahead with its gay bishop ordination (Oct. 17, 2003)
Anglican Leaders Criticize Episcopal Church, Canada's New Westminster Diocese on Homosexual Actions | Future of the Anglican unity "in jeopardy," they say, but don't break communion—yet (Oct. 16, 2003)
Anglicanism's Communion of Saints | Under the somber portraits of their predecessors, Anglican archbishops will discuss the fractious issues of the church and homosexuality (Oct. 15, 2003)
Weblog: Where Else to Go for News and Analysis of the Anglican Primates' Meeting | The best (and worst) articles and sites monitoring the breakup of the world's third-largest Christian body (Oct. 15, 2003)
One-and-One-Half Cheers for the Anglican Primates' Statement | An interview with theologian—and longtime Anglican—J.I. Packer (Oct. 17, 2003)
Anglican Leaders Criticize Episcopal Church, Canada's New Westminster Diocese on Homosexual Actions | Future of the Anglican unity "in jeopardy," they say, but don't break communion—yet. (Oct. 16, 2003)
Florida Bishop Defies Episcopal Church Head | The consecration of a new bishop becomes the latest battleground between Frank Griswold and the American Anglican Council. (Oct. 10, 2003)
Reimagining Anglican Bonds of Affection | Orthodox American leaders begin describing what realignment of the Anglican Communion might look like. (Oct. 09, 2003)
Conservative Episcopalians Challenge Church Politics as Usual | "A Place to Stand" conference combines unofficial convention, pep rally, and communiqué to Anglican leaders. (Oct. 08, 2003)
Our Brothers and Sisters, the Episcopalians | The Episcopal Church needs our help. Here's why we should give it. (Oct. 03, 2003)
Orthodox Canadian Anglicans on Alert (Sept. 09, 2003)
To My Episcopal Family | Final thoughts from the Episcopal Church's General Convention. (Aug. 08, 2003)
Bishops Sanction 'Resources,' Not Rites | Having confirmed gay bishop, Episcopal leaders turn to discussing same-sex unions. (Aug. 7, 2003)
Darkness in the Afternoon | Openly homosexual Episcopal priest cleared of misconduct, confirmed as bishop (Aug. 6, 2003)
The Bitter Harvest of Sexual Ideology | No one wanted the Gene Robinson bishopric debate to take this sad turn (Aug. 5, 2003)
Deputies Slice into the Gordian Knot | The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies approves Gene Robinson as New Hampshire Bishop. The House of Bishops will vote today. (Aug. 4, 2003)
Praise the Lord and Pass the Condoms | Southern Hemisphere primates warned that approving Gene Robinson would place the church outside most of the world's 72 million Anglicans. "You'll get over it," responded about 60 percent of the House of Deputies. (Aug. 4, 2003)
Gene Robinson Takes Questions in a Church called Gethsemane | Speaks on reparative therapy, potential schism, and whether he really "/left" his wife for his male lover. (Aug. 4, 2003)
What in the World Is God Doing? | For Episcopalians, the night may be darkest before the dawn. (Aug. 4, 2003)
Integrity Doles Out God's Not-So Inclusive Love | The Integrity Eucharist has become a triennial sort of mass pity party. (Aug. 1, 2003)
Gay Rites Would Not Bless Ecumenism | Could also impair Anglican work overseas. (Aug. 1, 2003)
Gene and Me | My history with the openly gay man elected bishop of Rochester. (July 31, 2003)
Coming Attractions | Gay activism is not just found in liberal churches (July 28, 2003)
Anglican Communion Frays | Bishops worldwide chastise Canadian bishop who approved gay unions. (July 09, 2003)
The African Lion Roars in the Western Church | Anglican liberals are fretting, conservatives rejoicing, and all are scrambling to their history books: whence this new evangelical force on the world scene? (June 27, 20 03)
Why I Walked | Sometimes loving a denomination requires you to fight. (Jan. 03, 2003)
A Holy Nuisance | J.I. Packer has strong words for those who don't feel called to agitate for reform. (Jan. 03, 2003)
Mortified in Vancouver | A church's actions can be in conflict with its professed faith only so long before faithful Christians wonder how much hypocrisy they can stand. (July 30, 2002)
Vancouver Anglicans Approve Same-Sex Unions | Conservatives walk out after synod vote to bless gay couples. (June 17, 2002)
Anglican Diocese Endorses Same-Sex Unions | Traditionalists walk out, issue global call for outside intervention. (July 12, 2002)
Canadian Anglicans Vote on Blessing Gay Unions (June 13, 2002)
Commission Will Try to Resolve Tensions Within Anglicanism Worldwide | Group will examine strains over homosexuality, as well as role of Archbishop of Canterbury. (March 20, 2001)
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