Gay marriage on the agenda for Canadian General Synod this week


George Conger

Archbishop Fred Hiltz opened the 41st General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada with an admission the church’s deliberations on the topic of same-sex marriage would be difficult. Approximately 350 lay and clergy delegates along with members of the House of Bishops and guests including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, are meeting from 7-12 July 2016 at the Sheraton Parkway Hotel in Toronto. Authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex marriages appears to be the most contentious issue before the meeting. At their winter meeting the House of Bishops said they would not approve introducing same-sex rites, however, some bishops and dioceses have vowed to press the synod to adopt the blessings. In his opening sermon Archbishop Hiltz said: “In previous Synods we have often done our work of discernment and decision making well, and sometimes not.” He added that “in our efforts to lift every voice we have fallen short in our capacity to hear the voice of the Spirit whispering into our proceedings a word of wisdom and grace.” A supporter of same-sex blessings, Archbishop Hiltz has tried to walk a fine line between outright endorsement of the practice and informal support. At the January primates meeting, he defended the Canadian church by noting that while some dioceses had approved same-sex marriage rites, the national church had not. However, the machinery of the church appears to be pushing for a vote in favor of the innovation. While the numbers were not present for approval of same-sex rites in February amongst the bishops, activists are hoping that some opponents can be peeled off to allow the necessary majority to prevail. The culture of synod is also in support of gay marriage. The Anglican Church of Canada is celebrating Gay Pride Month and at the Anglican Foundation,  the financial endowment wing of the church, is selling Pride Bears for $20.00 in aid of breakfast funding for schools.


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