The question of how to proceed on the issue of same-gender relationships will be one of the most difficult questions facing Anglicans meeting in Winnipeg this week, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison told the opening service Monday evening of the 38th General Synod.
About 300 delegates who have gathered for the triennial synod — the Anglican Church of Canada’s chief governing body — are expected to vote Saturday on a resolution affirming the authority of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions.
Related to that, said the archbishop, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, is how “our decisions will impact on our sister churches in the Anglican Communion.”
In his final address to General Synod before he retires at the end of the week, he went on: “At the end of the day, when decisions are made, they will not be unanimous, but the unanimous decision of the Primate’s Theological Commission (and of many other sources) is that the question of same-gender blessings should not be a communion-breaking issue.
“So the alternative to that is that in keeping with a long Anglican tradition, we make room at the table for those whose views we do not share.”
These are difficult days, he said, as the traditional structures of our church are challenged and their roles called into question. Faith and order have “always gone hand in hand in the life of the church.”
It is within that framework that “we are a family of autonomous churches held together by bonds of affection that have frequently been strained, and often mended.”
It is also within that framework that the Church of England maintains full communion with the Church in Sweden and with the Old Catholic Church in Europe despite differences in belief and practice, both having authorized public rites of blessing for same-sex couples.
Election of a new primate will take place Friday. The House of Bishops has selected four candidates.
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