Former Canadian religious leader urges Anglicans not to bow to pressure from conservatives on same-sex blessings
April 14, 2007
Faith and Ethics Reporter
OTTAWA–Choosing his words carefully, the longtime former leader of the Canadian Anglican Church opened a conference on gay rights in the church last night with a gentle, but deliberate, nudge toward acceptance and a rejection of rigid doctrine.
"Matters of doctrine become matters of control," Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, said, breaking three years of public silence.
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Having promised his successor, Andrew Hutchison, he would not interfere in his work, Peers cautiously addressed the Whole Message Conference of gay Anglicans, focused on past conflicts over doctrine, such as the ordination of women in the 1970s. One prominent newspaper "was gleefully predicting the death of Anglicanism worldwide."
With such predictions again being made, this time over gay rights, Peers warned arguments over doctrine become divisive when one group tries to impose its views on others.
That, he said, is not the Anglican way, and pleaded his church not bow to pressure from conservative leaders in the church, led by powerful group of African bishops, to force doctrine on the rest of the communion.
"Generally speaking, the tradition in the church has been, I don't like what is happening in my church, so I must leave."
"Not, I don't like what is happening – you must leave."
The problem the church has confronted over and over since the 16th century is that faith evolves into doctrine and doctrine evolves into order, Peers said.
When doctrine and order get mixed up, he warned, questions of faith get lost. And that, he said, is dangerous to good theology.