Church’s acceptance of gays and lesbians has not changed, Anglican Primate says

Canadian gays and lesbians will continue to be `welcomed and received in our churches and to have their contributions to our common life honored,’ says Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a statement released today, Archbishop Peers said that reports quoting him as implying that the Canadian church would seek to dissociate itself from the U.S. Episcopal Church because of its election of a gay bishop were `wildly inaccurate’.”

Archbishop Peers was quoted after a meeting of Anglican Primates in England last week.  The Primates admitted, in a statement following the meeting, that they remained divided on issues involving the blessing of same-sex relationships.

The Canadian Anglican church, Archbishop Peers noted, has embarked on a process to bring issues of same-sex relationships to next year’s General Synod, the church’s chief governing body.  `That has not changed,’ he said.

The full text of Archbishop Michael Peers’ statement to Canadian Anglicans follows:

`The communique from last week’s meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Moderators of the United Churches has created a flurry of reports and speculations as to its implications.

`I am particularly concerned at one recent report that I suggested that the Anglican Church of Canada was ready to join the church in Nigeria in dissociating ourselves from the Episcopal Church, USA.  That report is, of course, the result of an interpretation made by the reporter in question, and is wildly inaccurate.

`The General Synod of 1995 welcomed and affirmed the presence of gay and lesbian persons in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada.  That has not changed.  The Council of General Synod has asked the Committee on Faith, Worship and Ministry to design a process by which the General Synod of 2004 may prepare to address questions concerning our church’s response to same-sex relationships.  That has not changed.

`Though the Primates `as a body’ expressed regret at events and decisions in New Westminster and the Episcopal Church, USA, as Primate, I have formally expressed neither regret nor affirmation of those events and decisions.  I refrain from doing so because I am committed both to the resolutions of the 1995 General Synod and to the hope that in 2004, the General Synod will find a way for us to move forward together on the basis of whatever decision emerges from the Synod.  Similarly, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, while supporting the letter as an accurate reflection of the Primates’ stance, presided at the General Convention at which the confirmation of Canon Robinson’s election in New Hampshire was confirmed.  These qualifying observations were registered by us an accepted by the other members of the meeting.

`Gay and lesbian persons may continue to expect to be welcomed and received in our churches, and to have their contribution to our common life honored.  Those on all sides who are dismayed over recent developments may continue to expect a faithful, charitable and thoughtful hearing within the life of our church at all levels.

`As Canadian Anglicans, we are part of a worldwide communion that faces divisive issues in the months and years ahead.  Our role in addressing these issues will, I hope, continue to be one of attending carefully to the diversity within the Anglican Church of Canada, and within the wider Communion.

`I invite your continuing prayers, not just for some, but for all, that the world may see in us a compelling witness to the redeeming power of our Lord, and that we may be renewed in the gladness of our common life.  May we find together the grace, strength and charity to sustain the gift of the communion, strained though it may be at this time.  It is a gift entrusted to us, not for our sakes alone, but for the sake of the world and of generations yet to come’.

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The statement may also be found at www.anglican.ca

For more information, please contact:  Michael Thompson, Principal Secretary to the Primate,416-924-9199 ext. 277, [email protected], OR Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306, [email protected]


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