Representatives of the Anglican Church of Canada yesterday responded to a request from the Primates of the Communion that they address the Anglican Consultative Council to explain where the church is on the issue of same-sex blessings and how it arrived there.
Four “presenters” appointed by Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the Canadian Primate, spoke to the ACC meeting here for 90 minutes. They were introduced by Bishop Sue Moxley of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and the presentation was concluded by Archbishop Hutchison.
The Canadian presenters took pains to stress that although the Canadian church has diverged from much of the rest of the Communion on the controversial issue of same-sex blessings, it continues to see itself as part of the world-wide Communion and wishes to remain so.
The Canadians also said that the church is still very much “in the midst of a conversation” on the issue and that no church-wide decision is expected at least until the next meeting of its chief governing body — the General Synod — in 2007. (So far, one diocese — New Westminster — has authorized a rite to bless same-sex relationships.) They also told members of the ACC that the church exists in a social, cultural and political context where most jurisdictions have already authorized same-sex marriages.
In closing the presentation, the Canadian Primate, Archbishop Hutchison, reminded ACC members that the Canadian church has complied with requests that it express regret over strained relationships that its actions have caused. It has also agreed to a moratorium on dioceses authorizing same-sex blessings rites until the General Synod considers the matter.
The Canadian presentation followed a similar one in which representatives of the U.S. Episcopal Church addressed the council to describe the process whereby an openly gay man was consecrated bishop.
At a meeting last February, the Primates of the Anglican Communion asked the Canadian and U.S. churches to “voluntarily withdraw” from this meeting of the ACC, but to send people to make these presentations. In subsequent meetings, the national councils of both churches decided to send their regular members to the council anyway, but instructed them to act as observers only and not participate in the proceedings. The two churches also acceded to the request to make the presentations, which were held yesterday.
Making the presentation on behalf of the Canadian Church were Bishop Moxley, a regular member of the Council, Rev. Dr. Stephen Andrews, president of Thorneloe University and a member of the Primate’s Theological Commission, Maria Jane Highway, an indigenous partner to General Synod and a member of the Faith, Worship and Ministry committee, Canon Robert Falby, QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Toronto and a member of General Synod, and the Very Rev. Peter Elliott, Dean of the Diocese of New Westminster and Prolocutor (or vice-chair) of the General Synod.
The regular Canadian members of the ACC are Bishop Moxley, the Rev. Canon Allen Box of Ottawa and Ms. Suzanne Lawson of the Diocese of Toronto.
The Anglican Consultative Council includes bishops, priests and lay people from all of the provinces of the Anglican Communion. It meets every three years to coordinate aspects of international Anglican ecumenical and mission work.
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