Monday, 25 June 2007

Canadian Synod agrees gay blessings 'not against core doctrine'

Canada's Anglicans narrowly voted Sunday against letting priests bless same-sex marriages, but they also agreed the blessings do not conflict with their church's core doctrine, a step opposing sides agreed opens the door to such ceremonies in the future.

The moves by the Anglican Church of Canada came at a time when divisions over the Bible and homosexuality are roiling the world Anglican fellowship.

The resolution that failed would have let priests conduct blessing ceremonies for gay couples who have already married in civil ceremonies, but would not have allowed priests to actually marry same-sex couples. Civil marriages for gay couples have been legal in Canada since 2004.

The resolution required a majority rule in three orders - the laity, clergy and bishops. It failed only in the order of bishops, which voted 21-19 against it.

"There is no question that there was a lot of disappointment on the part of some people and a lot of pain, and some people will be saying, 'How long, oh Lord, how long will this conversation continue?' And it will continue," said Bishop Fred Hiltz, who was elected to lead the Anglican Church on Friday and voted for the resolution.

Gay rights activists, however, took solace in an earlier vote Sunday, in which the Anglicans agreed that same-sex blessings do not conflict with the church's core doctrine. In that vote, the clergy and the laity were combined and voted 152-92 in favor; the bishops voted 21-19 in favor.

"We now have theological agreement that same-sex unions are not in opposition to doctrine and that's a big deal," said Chris Ambidge, president of the Toronto chapter of gay advocacy group Integrity. "However, it's just a 75 percent win because there's no pastoral benefit to gay and lesbians with what has happened today. The church approved things in principle, but said we're not going to do anything about it." Read more

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