Monday, November 3, 2008

Wiggle Room

'Large majority' of bishops agree to moratoria


Oct 31, 2008
Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Canadian house of bishops on Oct. 31 said a "large majority" of its members could affirm "a continued commitment to the greatest extent possible" to a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions but also recognized that this would pose difficulty for some dioceses "that in conscience have made decisions on these matters."

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, acknowledged that this stance allows dioceses such as Montreal and Ottawa some wiggle room to continue what their bishops have recently described as "incremental" and "experiential" steps toward same-sex blessings.

"This is a very honest statement from the point of view that it clearly reflects the reality of the Canadian church … that there are some within the house who would not stand within that majority," said Archbishop Hiltz in an interview at the end of the meeting Oct. 27 to 31.

"At the same time it seems to me that all that stand within that majority worked hard to be as gracious and as generous as they could in recognizing that some dioceses have been in discernment for a long time" on the matter of same-sex blessings.

Last weekend the diocesan bishop of Montreal, Barry Clarke, announced his intention to establish a commission that would draft an appropriate rite for same-sex blessings and guidelines for its implementation. That same weekend, the diocesan bishop of Ottawa, John Chapman, said that he would inform the house of bishops about his plan to take steps to develop a rite for same-sex blessings in his diocese and to allow one parish to offer it. (Two other diocesan synods – Niagara and Huron – and one assembly – the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior -- have also asked their bishops to allow clergy to bless same-sex unions. One diocese, New Westminster, has allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in eight parishes since 2002.)

To read the rest of the story, please visit the Anglican Journal Web site,

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