In a move that will most likely complicate efforts to maintain the unity of the 77-million member Anglican Communion, the Anglican Church of Canada approved a measure to “affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships” on Thursday, June c3, 2004.
The surprise 11th hour measure, which stops short of giving a green light to local “blessings” of same-sex union, was proposed by a liberal leader who wanted to give a “consolation prize” to gays and lesbians the morning after the Church voted to delay any national “blessings” of such unions until 2007.
The new measure, entitled, “integrity and sanctity,” was approved by a show of hands. Wednesday’s vote – a victory to conservative Anglicans worldwide – called against a national “blessing” of same-sex unions, mostly because of the threat the measure would have caused to worldwide Anglican unity.
The Anglican Communion has been on the brink of separation following the Episcopal Church USA’s election and ordination of Gene Robinson – an open and active homosexual man – as bishop of the New Hampshire diocese last November.
Since the ordination several conservative sanctions broke away from the national church to establish a separate Network of parishes. Internationally, half of the Anglican archdiocese formally broke ties with the ECUSA; the primates of Africa also released a statement calling the ECUSA to repentance.
Meanwhile, the newly elected Canadian Anglican Church leader urged local heads to refrain from taking actions that would prompt a greater schism.
"Constitutionally, because there is no inhibiting legislation at the level of general synod, it does leave diocese at liberty to make their own decisions," he said. "I hope that many will hold back (on blessing gay unions) simply to avoid a major schism for the church."
However, the liberal leader – one of five archbishops who spoke against the church’s prohibition from holding same-sex “marriage” ceremonies last year – added, “Whether morally diocese will feel constrained to hold back is another question.”
Other leaders cited scripture as the basis or morality and appealed against any move to bless homosexual unions.