Anglican General Synod will discuss blessing of same-sex unions

The Anglican Church of Canada will formally address the controversial issue of the blessing of same-sex unions when its principal governing body meets in St. Catharines, Ont., next month.

In the past two years, same-sex blessings have become the most divisive issue facing the international Anglican Communion.

One Canadian Anglican diocese — New Westminster, in British Columbia — voted to authorize such blessings in 2002.  The Anglican General Synod will debate a motion on same-sex blessings several months before a commission struck by the Archbishop of Canterbury to study the effects of the controversy throughout the communion is expected to report.

The Anglican General of Canada’s General Synod is the church’s chief governing and legislative body.  It comprises more than 300 members representing lay people, deacons, priests and bishops, chosen by all dioceses in the country.  The synod meets once every three years.  The 2004 gathering is taking place at Brock University in St. Catharines in the diocese of Niagara between May 28 and June 4 [2004].  The official host for Synod is the local diocesan bishop, Bishop Ralph Spence.

Synod members will address same-sex blessings on three different days — May 29 and June 1 for information presentations and discussion, and June 2 for a vote.

Members will consider a five-part motion that asks General Synod to “affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions”.

Eric Beresford, General Synod consultant for ethics and interfaith relations, who was involved in preparing the motion, explained that General Synod members are not asked to make a decision on the blessing of same-sex unions but rather to approve the concept that decisions on such blessings rests with each of the Canadian church’s 30 dioceses.

The motion before synod acknowledges that there are deep disagreements among church members over the issue, but asks Anglicans to commit themselves to “strive for that communions into which Christ continually calls us”.

The full text of the motion that will come before General Synod can be found at:

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This is one of a series of official news releases that will be made before the Anglican Church of Canada’s 37th General Synod.  Between now and the end of May, releases will be issued about once a week.

For more information, you may also consult the following Web sites:

– General information and background articles on General Synod 2004 is available at:

– A draft agenda is available at:

–  The Anglican Church’s two principal publications, the “Anglican Journal” and “MinistryMatters” may be found at:

–  A special publication for General Synod members and staff — the “General Synod Times” — may be found at:

Because of limited space for media at General Synod, journalists who wish to cover the event are encouraged to register in advance.  You may register at:

or contact Josie DeLucia, assistant to the Director of Communications, at 416-924-9199, ext. 294,  [email protected]

For more information, please contact:  Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306; [email protected]  OR

Eric Beresford, Consultant for Ethics and Interfaith Relations, General Synod, 416-924-9199 ext. 209; [email protected]

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