Algoma Debate Sexuality: Dioces Defeats Marriage Definition

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Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Delegates to the Algoma synod solidly defeated a motion declaring that God designed human sexuality exclusively for heterosexual marriages.

The vote on the motion was taken by orders and by ballot rather than a show of hands, with the laity most strongly coming out against the motion, 88 to 42. Clergy voted the motion down with 31 voting no and 21 in favour.

A second part to the motion stating that "adultery, fornication and homosexual unions are intimacies contrary to God's will and design" was subsquently withdrawn by the mover, Rev. Richard White, of the three-point Northern Lights parish.

Some expressed surprise that the motion was even on the floor, only a day after the synod began what was intended to be a general discussion about which part of the church should make decisions about same-sex unions.

In October the house of bishops asked dioceses not to make any decisions on same-sex blessings until General Synod in May, 2004.

Ross Cutmore of St. James, Goulais River, Ont., said "I feel this is a back-door manner to bring same-sex unions to this synod. I've been to four synods and I've never seen anything like this."

Rev. Shaun Turner, of St. Thomas, Bracebridge, Ont., said the motion would be viewed by the house of bishops "as blatantly disregarding their request to not move unilaterally."

The diocesan bishop, Ron Ferris, replied that the intent of the motion was to be an expression of opinion, and not an act of setting doctrine.

Bishop Ferris is known to oppose same-sex blessings and was one of 13 bishops who signed a statement of regret following the decision last June by the diocese of New Westminster to allow same-sex blessings. Much of his charge to synod was taken up with an argument opposing the blessings.

The northern Ontario diocese also approved the financial agreement reached last November between the federal government and General Synod, the church's national office; Algoma will contribute $725,000 to the $25-million residential schools settlement fund (see Schools, p. …