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Blessings approved

21 November 2007

by Pat Ashworth

A FOURTH Canadian diocese has approved blessings for same-sex couples who have been civilly married under Canadian law. Any cleric “whose conscience permits” will be able to offer blessings.

Niagara joins New Westminster, which has offered blessings since 2002, Ottawa, and Montreal, who voted at their recent diocesan synods (News, 19, 25 October). The difference in Niagara is that its Bishop, the Rt Revd Ralph Spence, has assented. His counterparts in Ottawa and Montreal are embarking on wider consultation before giving approval.

The Canadian General Synod ruled in June that the blessing of committed same-sex unions was consistent with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada, but stopped short of authorising dioceses to carry them out (News, 29 June). The Anglican Network in Canada described itself “hurt and distressed” by the news, but Bishop Spence said: “I am very proud that Niagara is taking a leadership role in asking the Canadian Church to move forward on this issue, mindful that we are doing it in a respectful way.”

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