Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, paid a traditional call on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Oct. 16. It is a tradition for new Anglican leaders of provinces to visit the archbishop, the titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, at his home in Lambeth Palace.
During their two-hour meeting, Archbishop Hiltz described the current state of the Anglican Church of Canada, particularly after the national meeting, General Synod, this past June. He spoke about the issue of human sexuality, and explained the diocese of Ottawa’s decision to approve blessings of same-sex unions. (The diocese of Montreal, which later passed a similar motion, had not yet met).
Archbishop Williams appeared receptive to the Canadian church’s actions. “He described our approach to handling the whole matter as ‘coherent,'” said Archbishop Hiltz. “We also, in that conversation, focused on the pastoral statement of the bishops and the kind of value that has for the church.”
The two also discussed ecumenical relations, and the Archbishop of Canterbury was interested to hear about the continued development of the Full Communion relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Archbishop Hiltz made several other stops during his five-day trip. He visited the Anglican Communion Office, where he spoke with Deputy General Secretary Gregory Cameron, and Philip Groves, facilitator of the listening process around the human sexuality issue for the Anglican Communion. He shared a meal with the Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper, and even gave a spontaneous presentation to Norwegian Lutheran students about Anglican-Lutheran relations in Canada.
Throughout these visits, Archbishop Hiltz heard encouraging feedback about how the Anglican Church of Canada is dealing with the issue of same-sex blessings.
“It’s always nice to hear someone like the Archbishop of Canterbury or from the Anglican Communion Office say you’re handling this coherently, cautiously, judiciously, and you’ve got some things I would hold up as a model for others to consider as they grapple with the issue,” said Archbishop Hiltz. “Of course that’s very encouraging and I’m looking forward to sharing those kinds of reflections at the Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops. Because we need to hear that.”
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