Primates 2016: Canada – the situation differs here

22 January 2016

MICHAEL HUDSON/GENERAL SYNOD COMMUNICATIONS

Pressure: the Archbishop of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz

Pressure: the Archbishop of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz

THE Archbishop of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz, has said that his Church is “in some respects” under more pressure than the US Episcopal Church, because it must make its decision on permitting same-sex marriage in the light of the Primates’ communiqué.

A motion changing the Anglican Church of Canada’s Canon XXI to allow same-sex marriage will receive its first reading at the General Synod in July.

The American Church had already made up its mind, he said on Tuesday, “whereas we have this extra piece of counsel as we go in to General Synod”. The Communion would have a bearing on the deliberations, he said, and referred to the dialogue between Canadian and African bishops begun in 2008. The Canadian Church was “very mindful” that other Primates were operating under “tremendous pressure”; but it would pay attention too, to its own missional context, which included “a very significant constituency of gay and lesbian people”.

If it is passed in July, the motion will not receive its second reading until 2019, and will not come into effect until 2020. Until it was adopted, Archbishop Hilz said, it would be “inappropriate” for the Anglican Church of Canada to share the fate of the Episcopal Church.

In the wake of the communiqué, Archbishop Hilz said that he had been subject to “sharp criticism over what some regard to have been a failure on my part to stand in solidarity with the Episcopal Church in openly rejecting the relational consequences it bears as a result of the Primates’ Meeting, or in accepting similar consequences for our own Church”. But, given that “the conversation is not finished in Canada”, it would not have been right for him to pre-empt its outcome.

Writing online on Tuesday, he said that he was “especially mindful of the pain the LGBTQ community within our Church is feeling”. He emphasised, too, that the Primates’ Meeting was not characterised by “ranting or raving”, but by “generosity of grace and patience”.

On Friday, Archbishop Welby refused to be drawn on what the consequences for the ACoC might be if it permitted same-sex marriage. He expected that “two or three” other Churches might follow this trajectory.

Same-sex couples could be married in the Scottish Episcopal Church as early as 2017, after a Synod vote last year (News, 13 June).

On Thursday, the Archbishop of Brazil, the Most Revd Francisco de Assis da Silva, said that the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, "as well as other provinces in the Communion, has committed to a path of inclusion and community with LGBT persons, and depending on the decisions made in the next two or three years, we could live through situations that are similar to what TEC is currently experiencing."

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