Magazine article Anglican Journal

Anglican Council Censures Canada, U.S.: Action 'Regrettable,' Says Primate

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Anglican Council Censures Canada, U.S.: Action 'Regrettable,' Says Primate

Article excerpt

Nottingham, England The Anglican Consultative Council, which met June 18-29, voted to censure the Canadian and American churches for their more-liberal stand on homosexuality after listening to presentations from both churches.

The council, an international group that meets once every three years, also decided to allow the 38 primates, or national bishops, of the Anglican Communion to join.

The 70-odd members of the council met at the University of Nottingham in an auditorium that was physically hot, due to wobbly air conditioning and a heat wave, and emotionally tense.

Although the council discussed such matters as the Middle East and the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, public interest focused on sexuality.

On June 22, the council decided to endorse a request from Anglican primates that Canada and the United States withdraw from the council at least until the 2008 Lambeth Conference, suggesting that the two churches "voluntarily withdraw" from two important council committees.

The proposal was supported by 12 signatories, including Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, a critic of the North American churches.

Debate and voting was held in a closed session. The vote was held by secret ballot. Thirty were in favour, 28 against and four abstained. Seven members did not vote or were not present.

Officials from both North American churches noted that the resolution had little practical effect. Six council members--three from Canada, three from the U.S.--had already been instructed by their churches to attend the meeting, but not participate. The delegates sat at the back of the hall in an area reserved for visitors. The churches felt this action respected the primates' request, but also allowed their members to be available for questions and consultations. Therefore, their six potential votes were not part of the balloting. There are no further council meetings until 2008, when Anglican bishops worldwide will gather in England for the decennial Lambeth Conference.

As for membership on the two committees--the standing committee and the inter-Anglican finance and administration committee--Canada currently has no members on the committee and the U.S. member, Robert Sessum, ended his term on the panel.

Rev. George Sinclair, national chair of Essentials, a group of conservative Canadian Anglicans, said he hoped "the leadership of the Canadian church doesn't spin this as being of no consequence." Mr. Sinclair, attending the conference as an observer, also said "my prayer is that Canada will repent and amend its life."

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the Canadian primate, commented in a statement that "we continue to be firmly committed to our international partnerships with other members of the Communion."

Canadian and American participation in social work and other activities in the Anglican Communion was unaffected by the vote.

Referring to another, less-controversial vote supporting a "listening process" for the Anglican Communion concerning questions of sexuality, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the U.S. Episcopal Church said, "I very much hope that the listening process now mandated by the (council) will be one step in healing this divide. …

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