Anglican Primate supports bishop’s stance on blessing of same sex unions

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has expressed support for a bishop who has decided to delay action on the blessing of same sex unions for two years.

Archbishop Michael Peers said that the decision by New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham to delay a decision pending further dialogue was a responsible one, which is characteristic of his desire to hear all voices, consistent with the policy of the Anglican church and faithful to Anglican tradition.

Last May, Bishop Ingham was asked, after a close vote by the governing body of his diocese, to approve the blessing of same sex unions. He delayed his decision until he could seek advice from fellow bishops in Canada and abroad.

He announced this weekend that he would ask all parishes in his diocese to study the question some more and said that he would place the issue on the agenda of his diocesan synod meeting in 2001. If that synod, or diocesan governing body, confirms the previous decision by a “substantial concensus”, Bishop Ingham said, then he will ratify it.

In his statement, Archbishop Peers said he knows of several other cases where a bishop has acted similarly under circumstances that are “potentially divisive.”

“The establishment of a commission to enable biblical and historic church teaching to be explored and shared embodies a faithfulness to the Anglican commitment to scripture, tradition and reason,” Archbishop Peers said.

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The full text of Archbishop Michael Peers’ statement follows.

Earlier today, Bishop Michael Ingham announced his response to a motion of the diocese of New Westminster, requesting that he permit the blessing of same-sex unions. My response to Bishop Inghamís statement is positive. I believe he has acted responsibly in withholding his consent, pending further dialogue, in a situation where the subject is potentially divisive and in which the motion passed by a narrow majority. I am personally aware of several precedents in which bishops have withheld or postponed consent in similar circumstances.

It is especially responsible to combine the postponement with a commitment to place the motion on the agenda of the diocesan synod in 2001 and require “substantial consensus” as Bishop Ingham has done. The process of study in which church members are challenged to meet with people of other views is characteristic of Bishop Inghamís concern throughout his leadership that all voices be heard. This will create the best conditions for genuine dialogue.

Bishop Inghamís concern that the voices of gay and lesbian people be formally represented in the dialogue is completely consistent with the mind of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada which “affirms the presence and contribution of gay men and lesbians in the life of the church”.

The establishment of a Commission to enable biblical and historic church teaching to be explored and shared embodies a faithfulness to the Anglican commitment to scripture, tradition and reason.

I am grateful that Bishop Ingham is inviting the contribution of Anglicans from beyond the Diocese of New Westminster in the work of the next two years, and I pledge my support to that enterprise.

My prayers and blessing go with the Diocese and its synod in the days ahead.

Archbishop Michael Peers

Primate


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