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Canada Anglicans won't change policy on gays
Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:40 PM EDT
By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Anglicans won't change their policy toward homosexuals, despite a rebellion against church leadership from the conservative Nigerian branch of the worldwide Anglican movement, the head of the church in Canada said on Wednesday.
The Nigerian church is upset at trends in Canada, Britain and the United States, including the ordination of a gay U.S. bishop and blessings of same-sex unions in one Canadian diocese.
It decided last week to delete all references to Canterbury, the mother church of the Anglican communion, from its constitution.
But Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, head of Canadian Anglicans, made clear that his Church was not ready to switch tack to meet the wishes of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, whose country is home to a quarter of the world's Anglicans.
"I think what he was really hoping for was that Canada would say what we did was dead wrong, and we're going to stop all conversation about this, and so on," Hutchison told Reuters. "It's not a realistic hope."
Canada's bishops agreed in April not to encourage the blessing of same-sex unions. But they stopped short of pledging a moratorium on the ceremonies, as requested by worldwide Anglican leaders who met in Northern Ireland in February.
The British Columbian Diocese of New Westminster says it will limit the number of parishes that perform the ceremonies, but it has also made clear that the blessings will go on.
Rules ending same-sex blessings could only come when the General Synod -- the Canadian Anglicans' highest decision-making body -- meets in the summer of 2007.
"The point we've come to in that discussion we've come to with great integrity and after very, very careful conversation, and that process will move forward," Hutchison said.
The Nigerian church, backed by others in developing countries including in Latin America and Asia, considers the matter to be one of obedience to the Bible, while the more liberal churches frame it more as a matter of gay rights.
"One certainly can't be encouraged by what we're hearing from Nigeria," Hutchison said. But he added: "I don't know that there's anything we can do about the church in Nigeria."
Canada's Liberal government, arguing that previous legislation discriminated against gays and lesbians, passed a law in July making gay marriage legal across the country.
Some churches perform gay marriage ceremonies, but the Anglican Church of Canada does not.