Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bishops Prepare for Synod Aftermath

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bishops Prepare for Synod Aftermath

Article excerpt

Niagara Falls, Ont.

Canada's Anglican bishops looked toward General Synod's anticipated discussion on homosexuality by considering how they can pastorally respond, to whatever synod decides about the blessing of same-sex unions.

Meeting in a two-hour closed session on April 19, the bishops developed suggestions that were then presented in open session; they will be e-mailed to the bishops for further work and are intended to be presented to General Synod.

Among the pastoral responses would be statements that the church's bishops hope that baptism, communion and confirmation would not be denied because of a parent's or couple's sexual orientation or marital status. Another response would be that a civilly-married gay or lesbian couple may celebrate a eucharist (with the bishop's permission) that includes appropriate intercessory prayers, but not a nuptial blessing. The bishops also expressed an intention to recognize the ministry of licensed gay and lesbian clergy and acknowledge the pain and conflict they experience.

The bishops said in the draft document that the pastoral provisions are "not the same as the authorization of the blessing of same-sex unions or marriage." They acknowledge that they "await the outcome of General Synod," and say the provisions are "consistent with the doctrine of the church and our membership in the Anglican Communion and fit within the pastoral guidelines of the Windsor Report."

Conservative bishops, while agreeing that pastoral care is needed, objected to some aspects of the document. "Our clergy will say this is one more step leading to recognition of homosexual marriage," said Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk of the diocese of the Arctic. Bishop William Anderson of Caledonia said it "reaches out to gays and lesbians" but would be seen as a "slap in the face to orthodox Anglicans."

Speaking in an interview after the closed session, Bishop Ralph Spence of Niagara noted that he, a liberal on sexuality, and Bishop Patrick Yu, suffragan (assistant) bishop of Toronto and a conservative, have been working together on the issue of a pastoral response to the upcoming General Synod's decisions. "If a liberal bishop and a conservative bishop can find a generous solution," then that could be a way forward, he said. …

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