The Anglican Church of Canada will choose its next national leader today, May 31, 2004. Similar to what has been happening in the United States, the debate over who will take over the 650,000 member denomination stands on the platform of blessing same-sex unions.
Two years ago, the diocese of New Westminster defied the church law by openly blessing homosexual unions in the church. The newly elected primate, along with the church delegates will also decide on whether to rebuke the diocese or allow it to continue, on Wednesday, two days after the election.
Of the three nominees for “primate,” one is a conservative, another a liberal and the last a moderate.
The conservative nominee, Bishop Ronald Ferris, 58, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, stands for biblical morality in the church and calls for the immediate halt of such “blessings.”
At the other end of the pole stands the Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, 65, who advocates "full inclusion" of gays and lesbians in the church. He heads the Montreal Diocese and supervises a region spanning five Canadian provinces.
The third nominee, who avoids comments on the issue, is Bishop Caleb Lawrence, 63, of remote Timmins, Ontario. Lawrence merely says that if the same-sex blessing idea "is not of God, it will not stand," and if it's God's doing, then bishops cannot prevent it.
Currently, the worldwide Anglican Communion has been on the verge of splitting apart because of the issue on homosexuality. The majority of the archdiocese, most of which are located in the global south, rejects the ordination of openly gay individuals the blessings of same-sex unions. However, many of the western countries, including the United States and Canada, has expressed the desire for such ‘blessings.’
An emergency commission on the issue has been set to meet behind closed doors on June 13-17 near Hendersonville, N.C.