Homosexuality and Anglicanism

Homosexuality and Anglicanism

Issues concerning homosexuality are controversial in the Anglican Communion. During the thirteenth Lambeth Conference in 1998, a resolution was passed stating that homosexual acts are "incompatible with Scripture" by a vote of 526-70; [David Skidmore, 1998-08-07, [http://www.lambethconference.org/1998/news/lc098.cfm Lambeth Conference 1998 Archives] . Accessed 2007-04-12.] however, it also contained a statement declaring this policy would not be the final word and research would continue. (Lambeth Resolutions are not binding on member churches of the Anglican Communion, but carry considerable moral authority.)

In 2003, the Church of England announced the appointment of Jeffrey John, a priest living in a celibate domestic partnership with another man, as the Suffragan Bishop of Reading. Many Anglican traditionalists were outraged and John eventually succumbed to pressure from the Archbishop of Canterbury (who had initially supported the appointment) and others to withdraw before he had been formally elected.Fact|date=July 2008 John was later appointed as the Dean of St Albans instead. As of 2004, other Anglican provinces such as the Episcopal Church in the USA, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, the Anglican Church of Mexico, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa permitted the ordination of non-celibate gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions. In the Anglican Church of Canada, six parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster bless same-sex unions, and Dean Peter Elliott of that diocese is a gay man in a committed relationship. In 2003, the Episcopal Church in the USA consecrated Gene Robinson, a gay man, as the Bishop of New Hampshire.

Responding to these theological disputes, many provinces, primarily from central Africa also some in Asia, South America and Australia—representing around half of the 80 million practicing Anglicans worldwide—declared a state of impaired communion with their counterparts. ["The Tablet", 2003-07-26, [http://www.thetablet.co.uk/cgi-bin/citw.cgi/past-00153 Row over homosexuality splits Anglican Communion] . Accessed 2007-03-21.] Minority groups in Western provinces have stated their opposition to what they consider unscriptural actions by the Churches of England, Canada, Australia, and the ECUSA, and in the United States, some (such as the Anglican Mission in the Americas and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America) have withdrawn their affiliation with the ECUSA and realigned themselves with African provinces such as the Churches of Uganda and Rwanda.

ummary of issues

There is a wide range of beliefs within the Anglican Communion regarding homosexuality. Some of the more specific issues under study within member churches and dioceses are:
*Homosexual members of the church/communion
**May they exist?
**Must they be celibate?
**Should we bless same-sex unions of LGBT members?
*Homosexual clergy
**May they exist?
**May they be openly homosexual?
***To what extent may they be "out" (e.g. only to their bishop/partner/family, or to the wider public)
***May they openly have a partner?
**Must they be celibate?
**May any of these individuals (those who are celibate and those who are non-celibate) be bishops?Anglican churches are diverse in their views, from churches which do not accept any LGBT members, to churches which are happy to have openly LGBT, partnered, non-celibate bishops. The nature of the Anglican Communion is such that not all churches or dioceses must agree on all issues in order to share a common faith and baptism. Part of the current controversy concerns how much and what sort of disagreement over these issues may exist while still calling it a "common faith."

*The Anglican Communion as a whole in 1998 (see Lambeth Conferences) affirmed the historic Christian teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and that others not called to marriage should remain celibate.
*The Church of England considers a celibate person of homosexual orientation to be eligible for ordination, even if the person has entered into a civil same-sex partnership, noting "The Church should not collude with the present assumptions of society that all close relationships necessarily include sexual activity."Church of England News, 2005-07-25. [http://www.cofe.anglican.org/news/pr5605.html House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships] . Accessed 2007-07-18.]
*The Church of England affirmed in 2005 that lay homosexuals who have entered into civil partnerships are still eligible for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and communion.
*In 2002, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Diocese of New Westminster voted to allow the blessing of same-sex unions by those parishes who choose to do so.
*The Anglican Church of Nigeria issued a statement in 2006 affirming "our commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity and encourages the National Assembly to ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality".
*Homosexuality, specifically the consecration of Gene Robinson, is anticipated to be a major issue at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. A group of conservative bishops opposed to homosexual ordination and marriage, including most of the "global south", will be gathering in June 2008 at the Global Anglican Future Conference. [http://www.gafcon.org/]

Gay bishop controversy

In August 2003 the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected an openly gay priest, Gene Robinson, as a bishop. This came shortly after a similar controversy in England when a gay priest, Canon Jeffrey John, was appointed to become the Suffragan Bishop of Reading. Eventually, however, John agreed to withdraw in order to avoid division. In 2004, in the aftermath of the Gene Robinson election as bishop, Jeffrey John was installed as Dean of St. Albans Cathedral, the site of England's first Christian martyr.

The 2003 Lambeth Palace meeting

As a result of the controversy over the ordination of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions, on October 15, 2003, Anglican leaders from around the world met in Lambeth Palace in an attempt to avoid a schism on the issue. The day after, they released a lengthy statement: [BBC News, 2003-10-16, [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3198992.stm Anglican leaders' statement] . Accessed 2007-03-22.]

We must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other. [...]
If his " [Gene Robinson's] " consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. [...]
In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). [...]
Similar considerations apply to the situation pertaining in the Diocese of New Westminster.We commend the report of that Conference in its entirety to all members of the Anglican Communion, valuing especially its emphasis on the need to listen to the experience of homosexual persons, and [...] to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ"; and its acknowledgement of the need for ongoing study on questions of human sexuality. [...]
As Primates, it is not for us to pass judgement on the constitutional processes of another province. We recognise the sensitive balance between provincial autonomy and the expression of critical opinion by others on the internal actions of a province.

tatements from Rowan Williams

In 2004 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams wrote a letter to Anglican churches worldwide in which he condemned comments by bishops outside the Western world for inciting violence against gay men and women. [BBC News, 2004-11-28, [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/uk_news/4049013.stm Churches warned over 'gay slurs'] . Accessed 2007-04-12. ]

Any words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person are words of which we must repent. Do not think repentance is always something others are called to, but acknowledge the failings we all share, sinful and struggling disciples as we are.

In a 2007 speech to theology students in Toronto, Williams argued that conservatives have failed to consider the wider context of Romans 1:27, which states, "and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for error." Williams pointed out that although St. Paul (the author of this epistle) and his contemporaries viewed homosexual behaviour "as obviously immoral as idol worship or disobedience to parents", the main thrust of this passage is that humans must not judge one another for being sinful: Romans 2:1 says "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another: for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things." Williams admitted that his analysis "does nothing to settle the exegetical questions fiercely debated at the moment", but called upon conservatives to avoid self-righteousness rather than "happily identifying with Paul's castigation of someone else". [Tom Heneghan, Yahoo! News, [http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070417/wl_canada_nm/canada_anglicans_homosexuality_col Anglican head Williams says anti-gays misread Bible] . Accessed 2007-04-19.]

ubsequent division

Bishops from two Anglican provinces, Province of Rwanda and the Province of South East Asia, consecrated missionary bishops for the United States in January 2000 and formally established the Anglican Mission in America, now the Anglican Mission in the Americas, later that year (see Continuing Anglican Movement). Bishops in Uganda cut relations with the Diocese of New Hampshire following Robinson's consecration on November 2, 2003. The Church of Nigeria declared itself in "impaired communion" with the Episcopal Church on November 2, 2003, [Peter J. Akinola, [http://www.anglican-nig.org/glbsouthst.htm Statement of the Primates of the Global South in the Anglican Communion in response to the consecration of Gene Robinson on 2 November 2003] . Accessed 2007-07-17.] and nine days later announced it was planning to establish a United States branch of its province to support Nigerian Anglicans living in the U.S. The Province of South East Asia broke communion with the Episcopal Church on November 20, 2003, citing Robinson's consecration as the reason for its action.Office of the Archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia, 2003-11-24. [http://www.anglican.org.sg/break_communion_24nov2003.html Breaking of Communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) consequent on the purported consecration of a gay bishop] . Accessed 2007-07-17.]

Windsor Report and 2005 Primates Meeting

In 2004, the Lambeth Commission on Communion issued a report on the issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, which became known as the Windsor Report. This report took a strong stand against homosexual practice, recommended a moratorium on further consecrations of actively homosexual bishops and blessings of same-sex unions, [The Windsor Report 2004. [http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/section_d/p3.cfm On public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions] . Accessed 2007-07-17.] and called for all involved in Robinson's consecration "to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion". [The Windsor Report 2004. [http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/section_d/p2.cfm On elections to the episcopate] . Accessed 2007-07-17.] However, it stopped short of recommending discipline against the Episcopal Church or Anglican Church of Canada.

In February 2005, the Primates of the Anglican Communion held a regular meeting at Dromantine in Northern Ireland at which the issue of homosexuality was heavily discussed. Of the 38 Primates, 35 attended. The Primates issued a communiqué that reiterated most of the Windsor Report's statements, but added a new twist. The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada were asked to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council, the main formal international entity within the Anglican Communion until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.

tance of Churches

Within the Anglican Communion there is diverse opinion over homosexuality. [Citation|title=Factfile: Anglican Church around the world|publisher=BBC News|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/3226753.stm|date=2007-02-13|accessdate=2008-02-15]

Church of England

The issue erupted when Jeffrey John, a gay canon, was elected Bishop of Reading in May 2003. Before he could take up his post there was strong opposition from a minority of Bishops and he was persuaded to resign. However, many senior Bishops have voiced disappointment at his decision to resign. Later in 2004 he was then installed as Dean of St Albans Cathedral. Further controversy erupted when churches in the Diocese of St Albans decided that they would withhold contributions until further notice to protest this appointment. St. Peter and Paul's Church in Cranfield, near Bedford, and Holy Trinity Church, in New Barnet, north London pledged to withhold money from diocese funds in protest. St Andrews Church in the Hertfordshire town of Chorleywood has also announced that it would withhold funds until further notice.

Church of Ireland

Within the Church of Ireland there is a wide spectrum of opinion. Conservatives expressed great concern about an alleged blessing of the relationship of a lesbian couple in St Nicolas' Collegiate Church, Galway in September 2002 and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick's attendance at Gene Robinson's consecration. [Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, 2004-03-23, [http://www.efic.org.uk/gene EFIC Statement on Robinson consecration] . Accessed 2007-06-13.] Dead link|20008-7-27|date=July 2008 [Reform Ireland, 2004-03-23, [http://www.reform-ireland.org/article/219 The Creeping Acceptance of Same-sex Relationships in the Church of Ireland] . Accessed 2007-06-13.] Views at parish level reflect this with many evangelical parishes as well as those in the more populous (in terms of Church of Ireland membership) north being generally opposed to homosexual practice, while middle and high church parishes, especially in the south, have openly gay parishioners as a matter of routine. For example, at General Synod 2005, Dean (now Bishop) Michael Burrows stated that he regularly gives Holy Communion to parishioners in long-standing homosexual relationships. [Irish Angle, 2006-03-31, [http://irishangle.net/nuacht/node/358 Michael Burrows goes to Cashel] . Accessed 2007-06-13.]

The Bishops have announced a process of listening and reflection within the Church. A preliminary response to the Windsor Report was produced by the Church's Standing Committee in January 2005.

Most of the northern dioceses have passed motions favouring Lambeth Resolution I.10, although a similar motion failed to receive overall endorsement in the Diocese of Connor, covering most of County Antrim, and the diocese with the most members in the Church of Ireland. [Irish Angle, 2004-12-27, [http://www.irishangle.net/nuacht/?q=node/229 Mapping Attitudes to Sexuality] . Accessed 2007-03-22.]

cottish Episcopal Church

The Scottish Episcopal Church does not have a policy against ordaining noncelibate gay clergy, thus such ordinations are theoretically allowed. They announced this on March 23, 2005:

(We) had never regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained ministry...We do not have a synodical decision like the Church of England has, which it made a number of years ago, and therefore if someone who was of a homosexual orientation felt a sense of call to the ordained ministry then we would begin the process of testing that vocation. We wouldn't bar him or her simply because they were homosexual.

Sensational headlines in North America announced that the SEC had agreed to ordain gays and lesbians in committed partnerships. The Church thus released a statement pointing out that the policy was not "news". Regarding the media release that the above quote came from, it noted that "Press interest has focused on one small part of the overall statement". It continued to say that:

In referring to the fact that there is no current bar to ordination for someone who might be in a close relationship with a member of the same sex, the Bishops were simply stating the present position as it applies in Scotland where, unlike some other provinces, no motion discouraging such ordinations has ever been passed by our General Synod. Consequently, the statement earlier this month does not represent any change in policy on the part of the Bishops. [Thinking Anglicans: Book review archives, 2005-03-24. [http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001085.html More on Scotland] . Accessed 2007-07-18.]

Church of the Province of South East Asia

(Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)

The Province of South East Asia criticised the confirmation of Gene Robinson as a Bishop by the Episcopal Church (USA), stating:

The said confirmation therefore seriously raises the question of ECUSA's genuine commitment to our corporate responsibility as members of the church catholic to uphold and promote only the Apostolic Faith and Order inherited. A natural, holistic and consistent reading of the Scriptures clearly show that it is against the practice of homosexuality. In the context of orthodox and classical Christianity, the canonical authority of the Scriptures is taken to be recognised and received by the community of faith and not subject to majority, culturally relevant or even theological voting. [Diocese of Singapore, 2003-08-13. [http://www.anglican.org.sg/bishop_gene_robinson.html Statement of Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia] . Accessed 2007-03-22.]

On 24 November 2003, the Province declared that it had entered into a state of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church (USA) by releasing the following statement:

The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of South East Asia ("the Province") unanimously reject the purported consecration of Dr Gene J Robinson ('Robinson') on 2 November 2003 by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America ('ECUSA') in New Hampshire, as a bishop in the Anglican Church. The Province views the purported consecration as a flagrant disregard of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the long established doctrines of the Church.
As Dr Gene J Robinson is a practising homosexual who had divorced his wife and has for the last 13 years been living with a male partner, the Province cannot and do not recognise his consecration and ministry in the Anglican church.
In view of ECUSA's action in proceeding with the consecration despite the warnings and pleas of a large majority of Anglican churches worldwide, the Province regrets that communion with the ECUSA as well as those who voted for the consecration and those who participated in the consecration service is now broken.
This means that the Province no longer treats those in ECUSA who carried out and supported the act of consecration as brothers and sisters in Christ until and unless they repent of their action and return to embrace Biblical truths. At the same time, the Province remains in fellowship with the faithful believers within ECUSA who rightly oppose and reject the erroneous actions of their house.
This decision was made unanimously at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Synod held in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia on 20 November 2003.

Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui

The 4th General Synod of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, at its meeting on 15 October 2007, resolved that the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macau supports the recommendations contained in the Windsor Report so as to safeguard the unity of the Anglican Communion.

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Official policy remains that of the Lambeth Conference (all homosexual activity is sin). The Maori and Pasifika tikanga are committed to this. Any participation leads to immediate summary withdrawals of any Bishop's licences, tantamount to immediate Excommunication.Fact|date=February 2008 The previous Archbishop of New Zealand Whakahuihui Vercoe created a stir after his consecration in 2004 when he expressed the hope that Christians would one day see a world without gays, free of sexual immorality, including homosexuality.Fact|date=February 2008

Some Pākehā clergy and parishes are accepting same-sex unions, such as St Matthews in the City and their vicar Glynn Cardy.Fact|date=February 2008 The Dunedin and Auckland Dioceses are notable for other such examples, including the ordination of a non-celibate gay priest, and the blessings of same-sex relationships performed by priests in an official capacity. [Ashford, Ron, [http://www.duomo.ac.nz/RonAshfordsThesis.doc A Right to a Rite?] , 2006.]

Anglican Church of Australia

At its 2004 General Synod held in Perth, the Anglican Church of Australia passed four resolutions on human sexuality. The key resolutions stated that, "Recognising that this is a matter of ongoing debate and conversation in this church and that we all have an obligation to listen to each other with respect, this General Synod does not condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relationships" and "this General Synod does not condone the ordination of people in open committed same sex relationships." [Sydney Diocesan Secretariat, [http://www.sds.asn.au/site/100736.asp?ph=cl General Synod Session 2004] . Accessed 2007-08-08.] The current national Church leader, Primate Phillip Aspinall, has stated the topic is not worth splitting the church over.BBC News, 2007-02-13. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/3226753.stm BBC Factfile: Anglican Church around the world] . Accessed 2007-07-18.] Peter Jensen, Archbishop of the Evangelical Anglican Diocese of Sydney, has vigorously opposed homosexuality, stating that accepting homosexuality is "calling holy what God called sin." [Barney Zwartz, "The Age", 2006-02-03. [http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/church-imperilled-by-gays-archbishop/2006/02/02/1138836372860.html Church imperilled by gays: archbishop] . Accessed 2007-07-22. ] The former Australian Primate, Archbishop Peter Carnley, who retired in 2005, criticized "Sydney Anglicans" for "empty moralizing" and questioned if the Bible condemns homosexuality in a statement:

The exact meaning to be read from these texts and whether they can rightly be made to provide a neat pre-packaged answer to our contemporary questions is what is at issue. Anybody brave enough to claim to know the inner mind of God on the basis of a personal claim to be privy to the only conceivable interpretation of some biblical texts is guilty of self-delusion. [Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com, June 30, 2003, [http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200306/FOR20030630a.html Anglican leaders in Australia at odds over homosexuality issue] . Accessed 2007-03-22.]

Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America

Archbishop Gregory Venables has also been strongly critical of homosexuality. Bishops in his province criticized the Windsor Report for failing to call liberal churches to repentance. The province has declared itself in "impaired communion" with ECUSA, but continues to maintain full communion with opponents of the Robinson consecration. [Anglican Communion News Service, 2004-01-12. [http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/37/25/acns3735.cfm Statement from the Province of the Southern Cone] . Accessed 2007-03-22.] Venables has authorized dioceses within his province to provide episcopal oversight to United States churches that have left ECUSA. In December 2007, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, an ECUSA diocese in central California, voted to leave ECUSA and joined the Province of the Southern Cone as the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. A minority of the Episcopal Diocese remained in ECUSA.

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil is characterized by its somewhat progressive theological views on homosexuality. After the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church in Brazil has decided to promote two national forums on Human Sexuality, both held in Rio de Janeiro. Its decisions guide the actual policy on this subject. According to the final document, the consensus of the Brazilian Church is that human sexuality is a gift from God, and it should be experienced in peace, freedom, love and respect. It is understood that the Church should respect the privacy of its members and clergy. So, any kind of public exposure of someone's sexual orientation (as a pre-requisite to be a member or take part of any ministry) violates this privacy. Because of that progressive position, the Bishop of the Diocese of Recife (the only one that is still strongly Evangelical), Robinson Cavalcanti, declared Recife to be independent of the Church of Brazil, an action that result in his being deposed as Bishop by the Ecclesiastical Tribunal. [D. Orlando Santos de Oliveira, 2005-06-17. [http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/dojustice/j311b.html Canonical Trial # 001/2005 of Bishop Edward Robinson de Barros Cavalcanti] . Accessed 2007-07-22.] Among his main reasons, he pointed that the Brazilian Church was sympathetic to the ordination of Gene Robinson's and dangerously coping with the allowing of homosexuals being part of its clergy. This split separated the Diocese of Recife in two parts: one of them, loyal to Bishop Orlando Santos de Oliveira, primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, and currently coordinated by Bishop Sebastião Gameleira, and the other, under Cavalcanti's leadership, tied to the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

Anglican Church of Canada

Homosexuality and the Anglican Church of Canada exists within a Canadian context. In the secular context, Canadian law has undergone a profound change in regards to homosexuality. The last homosexual to be 'sent to prison indefinitely as a "dangerous sex offender" was in 1967. [http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/samesexrights/timeline_canada.html In Depth Same-sex rights Canada timeline] ] In 1969, the Canadian parliament passed amendments into the Criminal Code decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada. On 20 July 1971, the last homosexual criminally convicted on his sexual orientation was released from prison. On 20 July 2005, the Canadian government legalised same-sex marriage.

The Anglican Church of Canada is the second largest Protestant denomination in Canada. The largest Protestant church in Canada—the United Church of Canada—went through a fierce debate on homosexuality and on 24 August 1988 "officially consider [ed] gays and lesbians for ordination as ministers." [ [http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-69-273-1398-10/life_society/united_church_gay/ United Church allows gay ministers] ] The United Church's debate was divisive and acrimonious. The United Church is a congregational church which allowed a compromise solution. In the summer of 1992, a group of congregations welcoming to homosexuals called themselves the 'Affirming Congregations'. Thus, "same-sex marriage and/or covenanting services are available through some United Churches." [http://www.united-church.ca/exploring/marriage/affirmingcongregations Affirming Congregations and Ministries of the United Church of Canada] ] In Canada, legal same-sex marriages performed by a major Christian denomination are possible. In Vancouver, the first legally sanctioned same-sex marriage—which became legal two years earlier in British Columbia—was performed by a minister of the United Church of Canada on 08 July 2003. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2003/07/08/bc_samesex030708.html B.C. ends wait for same-sex marriages] ]

In 2001, for the first time, the Canadian census enumerated same-sex couples. The 2006 census counted same-sex married couples following the legalization of same-sex marriages for all of Canada. Thus, concrete numbers are available to put some aspects of the same-sex blessing debate into secular context:

In total, the census enumerated 45,345 same-sex couples, of which 7,465, or 16.5%, were married couples. In 2006, same-sex couples represented 0.6% of all couples in Canada. This is comparable to data from New Zealand (0.7%) and Australia (0.6%). Over half (53.7%) of same-sex married spouses were men in 2006, compared with 46.3% who were women. About 9.0% of persons in same-sex couples had children aged 24 years and under living in the home in 2006. This was more common for females (16.3%) than for males (2.9%) in same-sex couples. [http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/070912/d070912a.htm Statistics Canada:2006 Census: Families, marital status, households and dwelling characteristics] ]

The debate in the Anglican Church of Canada became passionate when one Canadian diocese—the Diocese of New Westminster—authorized a rite for the blessing of same-sex unions at its 2002 Diocesan Synod. The use of the rite by individual parishes was incumbent upon a specific request of the parish made through its annual vestry meeting or resolution of its parochial church council. In May 2003, six of the diocese's 76 parishes received authorization to use the rite. [Diocese of New Westminster, Information on Same-Sex Blessings [http://www.samesexblessing.info/Overview/Chronology/tabid/72/Default.aspx Chronology of Actions taken by the Anglican Church Of Canada & the Diocese of New Westminster in regard to the Issue of Same Sex Unions] . Accessed 2007-07-22.] On 28 May 2003, the first same-sex union sanctioned by the Diocese of New Westminster occurred in Vancouver in the church basement of St. Margaret's Cedar Cottage Church. [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2003/05/29/samesex_030529.html Same-sex couple exchange vows in Anglican church] ] Bishop Michael Ingham said of the rite, "This is not a marriage ceremony, but a blessing of permanent and faithful commitments between persons of the same sex."

In an October 2003 letter by then-primate Archbishop Michael Peers said, "Canadian gays and lesbians will continue to be welcomed and received in our churches and to have their contributions to our common life honoured." [Anglican Church of Canada News, 2003-10-21. [http://www.anglican.ca/news/news.php?newsItem=2003-10-21_a.ans Church’s acceptance of gays and lesbians has not changed, Anglican Primate says] . Accessed 2007-07-18.]

In May 2004, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada passed a resolution on homosexuality, urging the church to continue dialogue and to:

affirm the crucial value of continued respectful dialogue and study of biblical, theological, liturgical, pastoral, scientific, psychological and social aspects of human sexuality; and call upon all bishops, clergy and lay leaders to be instrumental in seeing that dialogue and study continue, intentionally involving gay and lesbian persons...to prepare resources for the church to use in addressing issues relating to human sexuality including the blessing of same sex unions and the changing definition of marriage in society.
The resolution concluded that the Synod:
Affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same sex relationships." [http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/appendix/p3.12.cfm Resolutions concerning the blessing of same sex unions Anglican Church of Canada General Synod 2004.] . Accessed 2007-07-18.]

On 19 October 2004, the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission criticised both The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Westminster. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2004/10/18/anglican_report041018.html B.C. bishop backs same-sex unions despite Anglican report] ]

Although the Anglican Church of Canada has an authorized rite for the blessing of civil marriages, its Marriage Canon is used for interpreting the rite. Since it presumes opposite-sex partners, the Anglican Church of Canada disallows clergy to use the rite in all dioceses of the Church including New Westminster. The Very Rev. Peter Wall, Dean of Niagara and the Most Rev. Terence Finlay, retired Archbishop of Toronto and Metropolitan of Ontario have each been disciplined for celebrating lesbian weddings, Wall at Christ's Church Cathedral (Hamilton) and Finlay in a United Church. [Solange de Santis, "Anglican Journal", 2003-12-01, [http://www.anglicanjournal.com/issues/2003/129/dec/10/article/dean-who-married-same-sex-couple-prayed-he-could-awelcome-all-peoplea/ Dean who married same-sex couple prayed he could "Welcome all people"] . Accessed 2007-03-22.] [Marites N. Sison, "Anglican Journal", 2006-10-01, [http://www.anglicanjournal.com/100/article/archbishop-disciplined-for-performing-same-sex-marriage Archbishop disciplined for performing same-sex marriage] . Accessed 2007-03-22.]

In 2005, at the request of the primate, Andrew Hutchison, a theological commission produced the St. Michael Report. It recommended, among other things, that the national church treat the blessing of same-sex unions as analogous to marriage, and hence a matter touching on doctrine (although not what it called "core doctrine"). [Anglican Church of Canada, 2005. [http://www.anglican.ca/primate/ptc/smr.htm "The St. Michael Report".] Accessed 2007-07-22.]

In May 2007, the 106th Diocesan Synod of New Westminster passed a motion that "no person will be denied Baptism, Communion, or Confirmation because of their own or their parents’ sexual orientation." [http://www.vancouver.anglican.ca/News/tabid/27/ctl/ViewArticle/ArticleId/506/mid/486/Default.aspx Diocesan Synod affirms House of Bishops' stand against discrimination] ]

Meeting in June, 2007, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada voted to affirm that the blessing of same-sex unions was not a matter of core doctrine; but a motion to authorize dioceses to permit the blessing of such unions was narrowly defeated by the order of bishops (it was passed by the orders of clergy and laity)Solange de Santis, Anglican Journal, 2007-06-28. [http://www.anglicanjournal.com/100/article/bishops-discuss-fallout-from-same-sex-vote-at-general-synod/ "Bishops discuss fallout from same-sex vote at General Synod".] Accessed 2007-07-22.] . A subsequent motion passed by General Synod called for the Primate's Theological Commission to make proposals regarding the revision of the marriage canon, to allow for the marriage of all legally qualified individuals (which, in Canada, would include gays and lesbians). The Diocese of New Westminster construed the actions of Synod as permitting it to continue its blessings of same-sex unions.

Delegates to the synods of the dioceses of Montreal and Ottawa proceeded to bring forward motions requesting episcopal authorisation of the blessing of same-sex unions later in 2007. The resolutions passed, prompting the two diocesan bishops to announce that they would consult with the national House of Bishops, the diocese, and Anglicans both nationally and internationally before acting on the motions. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Ottawa votes yes to same-sex blessings |url=http://www.anglicanjournal.com/nc/100/article/ottawa-votes-yes-to-same-sex-blessings/ |format= |work= |publisher=Anglican Journal |id= |pages= |page= |date=13 Oct 2007 |accessdate=2007-10-18 |language= |quote=] [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Synod 2007 Diocese of Montreal |url=http://www.montreal.anglican.ca/synod/pdfs/04%20Motions,%20Memorials%20and%20Petitions.pdf |format= |work= |publisher=Diocese of Montreal |id= |pages= |page= |date= |accessdate=2007-09-30 |language= |quote=] Currently, by virtue of the pastoral letter on the subject by the House of Bishops, priests may offer a service of the Eucharist (i.e. a Nuptial Mass) with intercessions for a civilly-married couple provided that neither vows are exchanged nor a blessing given. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Bishops' pastoral statement to go to General Synod |url=http://www.anglican.ca/news/news.php?newsItem=2007-05-01_hob.news |format= |work= |publisher=Anglican Church of Canada |id= |pages= |page= |date=01 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-30 |language= |quote=]

The Diocese of Niagara passed a resolution to allow the blessing of same-sex unions in 2004, but Bishop Ralph Spence withheld assent. In 2007, he gave assent to a motion quite similar to that passed by the synods of Montreal and Ottawa, and indicated further consultations will take place before permission is given to clergy to conduct same-sex blessings. [ [http://www.anglicanjournal.com/nc/100/article/niagara-diocese-approves-blessings-for-gay-couples-bishop-assents/ Anglican Journal: Niagara diocese approves blessings for gay couples; bishop assents ] ] [ [http://www.niagara.anglican.ca/synod2007/report-letter.cfm Diocese of Niagara Synod 2007] ]


In February 2008, St. John's (Shaughnessy) Anglican church in Vancouver voted overwhelmingly (97.7%) to break fellowship with the Anglican Church of Canada and regional bishop Michael Ingham over the issue of homosexuality. The parish accepted an invitation to receive oversight from the conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (South America). [Citation|url=http://your.sydneyanglicans.net/breakingnews/bishop_harvey_welcomes_st_johns_shaughnessy/|title=Bishop Harvey welcome's St. John's] Following this, fifteen other parishes in Canada have made a similar move, prompting legal action from dioceses. [Citation|title=Anglican churches opt for distant leadership|url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080218.wanglicansb18/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20080218.wanglicansb18|publisher=Globeandmail.com|date=2008-02-18] [Citation|title=Anglican rift deepens as two sides go to court|url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080225.ANGLICAN25/TPStory/National|publisher=The Globe and Mail|author=PATRICK BRETHOUR|date=2008-02-25]

Episcopal Church in the United States of America

In 2003, ECUSA became the first Anglican province to ordain an openly gay bishop; however, the church's stance on gay issues has been debated for decades. In 1976, ECUSA's General Convention passed a resolution stating: "It is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."Various interpretations were held within ECUSA on this resolution, ranging from the majority of dioceses that ordain noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy to the minority group who founded the Anglican Communion Network which opposes such ordinations. On June 23, 2005 the ECUSA defined its meaning in a one hundred and thirty page document entitled "To Set Our Hope on Christ":

We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before... the eligibility for ordination of those in covenanted same-sex unions... a person living in a same-gendered union may be eligible to lead the flock of Christ... members of the Episcopal Church have discerned holiness in same-sex relationships and have come to support the blessing of such unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions... Their holiness stands in stark contrast with many sinful patterns of sexuality in the world... The idea that there is only one correct way to read or interpret scripture is a rather modern idea. [Jill Lawless, Associated Press, 2005-06-21. [http://aacblog.classicalanglican.net/archives/2005_06.html#000759 U.S. Episcopals Defend Openly Gay Bishop] . Accessed 2007-07-17.]

Church in the Province of the West Indies

Archbishop Gomez has said Robinson's confirmation is incompatible with scripture.

Church of the Province of Central Africa

Archbishop Malango was quoted as stating Gene Robinson's election "brought darkness, disappointment, sadness and grief" to his Church. [Afrol News, 2003-09-02. [http://www.afrol.com/articles/10483 Ugandan Church attacks gay community] . Accessed 2007-07-18.]

Anglican Church of Kenya

Archbishop Nzimbi has strongly spoken against admitting homosexuals into the Church.

Church of Nigeria

The church remains sharply opposed to homosexuality, calling it "a perversion of human dignity."Peter Akinola, [http://www.anglican-nig.org/PH2006message2nation.htm Message to the nation] . Accessed 2007-07-17.]

Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has criticised other African Churches against homosexuality and said that the church's attention should be focussed on other concerns such as AIDS and poverty. Their previous Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, stated:

The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority [...] . I could not myself keep quiet whilst people were being penalized for something about which they could do nothing, their sexuality. For it is so improbable that any sane, normal person would deliberately choose a lifestyle exposing him or her to so much vilification, opprobrium and physical abuse, even death. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as Apartheid ever was. [Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2004-02-01. [http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/12039.htm Sermon at Southwark Cathedral] . Accessed 2007-03-22.]

Episcopal Church of the Sudan

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, on July 22nd at a public press conference during the 2008 Lambeth Conference called for Robinson to resign, and for all those who had participated in his consecration to confess their sin to the conference. [cite web
title=Sudanese primate wants Robinson's resignation
publisher=The Episcopal Church
location=New York, NY, USA
first=Mary Frances

Anglican Church of Tanzania

In November 2003, responding to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela said homosexuality is against biblical teaching: "The Anglican Church of Tanzania believes that homosexuality is contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. It is a sin."Afrol News, 2003-11-13. [http://www.afrol.com/articles/10473 Church of Tanzania breaks ties with US church] . Accessed 2007-03-22.] Mtetemela declared that the church of Tanzania was no longer in communion with ECUSA bishops who participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson, and those who permit the blessing of same-sex unions.

Church of the Province of Uganda

The Ugandan church has cut ties with its North American counterparts over homosexuality. It has officially recognized the Anglican Communion Network, a theologically conservative group formed by several diocesan bishops and large parishes in the United States opposed to the Robinson consecration, as the legitimate representative of Anglicanism in the U.S.Fact|date=May 2008

ee also

*Cambridge Accord
*Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas
*Homosexuality and Christianity
*Integrity Toronto
*John Atherton
*Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
*Propitiation (Toronto)
*Religion and homosexuality


External links

* [http://www.integrityusa.org Integrity] A witness of GBLT persons in the Episcopal Church and to the world.
* [http://www.americananglican.org American Anglican Council (a leading conservative group in the Episcopal Church)]
* [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3570843 Top bishop's vision - a world without gays]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3858915.stm Gay cleric installed at St Albans]
* [http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/hilliard_unenglish.pdf UnEnglish and unmanly: Anglo-Catholicism and homosexuality] , by David Hilliard
* [http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/hassett2004.pdf Episcopal Dissidents, African Allies: The Anglican Communion and the Globalization of Dissent (on Homosexuality)] , by Miranda K. Hassett.Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_angl.htm The Worldwide Anglican Communion and Homosexuality]
* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_ang.htm The Anglican Church of Canada and Homosexuality]
* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_coe.htm The Church of England and Homosexuality]
* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_epis.htm The Episcopal Church USA and Homosexuality]

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