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THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA AND HOMOSEXUALITY

Events prior to 1995

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Study by the Canadian House of Bishops (1976):

The Canadian House of Bishops created a task force to study homosexuality, particularly with respect to pastoral concerns and ordination.

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Resolution of the Canadian House of Bishops (1979):

This is the Church's most recent formal statement on homosexuality.

"Questions of human sexuality are a matter of great concern to the Church of our day. Prominent amongst these concerns is the attitude of the Church towards homosexual persons. While homosexuality is a very complex and involved issue, nevertheless, in response to specific questions directed to the Anglican Church of Canada, we have decided that a statement is needed at this time.

"We believe as Christians that homosexual persons as children of God, have a full and equal claim, with all other persons, upon the love, acceptance, concern and pastoral care of the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ compels Christians to guard against all forms of human injustice and to affirm that all persons are brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. We affirm that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law with all other Canadian citizens.

"It is clear from Holy Scripture that only the sexual union of male and female can find expression within the covenant of Holy Matrimony. In the heart of biblical teaching about creation we discover insights into the nature and purpose of sexuality. Rooted in God's creative purpose is the fulfillment and completion of male and female in each other, together with the procreative function of sexuality. Thus the Church confines its nuptial blessing to heterosexual marriages, and we cannot authorize our clergy to bless homosexual unions. We are aware that some homosexuals develop for themselves relationships of mutual support, help and comfort, about which the Church must show an appropriate concern. Such relationships, though, must not be confused with Holy Matrimony, and the Church must do nothing which appears to support any such suggestion."

This statement was reaffirmed by the bishops in 1991.

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General Synod (1992):

Prior to the Synod, the Bishops released the following statement:

"Our present and future considerations about homosexuality should be pursued within the larger study of human sexuality in its totality:

We accept all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, as equal before God; our acceptance of persons with homosexual orientation is not an acceptance of homosexual activity

We do not accept the blessing of homosexual unions

We will not call in question the ordination of a person who has shared with the bishop his/her homosexual orientation if there has been a commitment to the bishop to abstain from sexual acts with persons of the same sex as a part of the requirement for ordination."

Anglican members at the Synod asked the House of Bishops and the National Executive Council to commission a study on homosexuality and homosexual relationships.

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The trial of Jim Ferry (1992):

Jim Ferry is an Anglican priest who is gay and in a committed relationship. He learned that members of his congregation had become aware of his relationship and were planning to tell his Bishop, Terence Finlay. He went to Finlay in 1991 to reveal his sexual orientation and committed partnership. The bishop attempted to break up the couple by ordering Ferry to leave his spouse and remain celibate. This he refused to do. A Bishops' Court was convened which generated great public interest throughout the U.S. and Canada. Bishop Finlay terminated Ferry's license to preach and "inhibited" him. Inhibiting is a church term which means that Ferry was not permitted to perform even those functions that lay persons are allowed to carry out (e.g. preach or organize a service).

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Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials (1994):

Three Anglican groups (Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, Barnabas Anglican Ministries and The Prayer Book Society of Canada) sponsored the Essentials '94 Conference in 1994-June. Attendees agreed on a conservative statement of belief, which included a brief statement on human sexuality:

"God designed human sexuality not only for procreation but also for the joyful expression of love, honour, and fidelity between wife and husband. These are the only sexual relations that biblical theology deems good and holy.

Adultery, fornication, and homosexual unions are intimacies contrary to God's design. The church must seek to minister healing and wholeness to those who are sexually scarred, or who struggle with ongoing sexual temptations, as most people do. Homophobia and all forms of sexual hypocrisy and abuse are evils against which Christians must ever be on their guard. The church may not lower God's standards of sexual morality for any of its members, but must honour God by upholding these standards tenaciously in face of society's departures from them."

Congregations must seek to meet the particular needs for friendship and community that single persons have. (Gen 1:26-28; 2:21-24; Mt 5:27-32; 19:2-12; Lk 7:36-50; Jn 8:1-11; Ro 1:21-28; 3:22-24; 1 Cor 6:9-11, 13-16; 7:7; Eph 5:3, 1 Tim 1:8-11; 3:2-4, 12)

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"The Fidelity Group" position paper (1994):

The Fidelity Group is a group of conservative Anglican clergy which was created to study the "issue of the church's pastoral guidance with respect to human sexuality and, in particular, the guidance which the church gives on the subject of homosexuality." Some excerpts from their position paper which are related to homosexuality are:
bullet"We acknowledge that .... homosexual people have been mistreated in society and unfairly singled out in the church."
bullet"We do not see any reason for the church to move its moral counsel and pastoral discipline from the 1979 House of Bishop's Statement."
bullet"Nowhere in the Bible is homosexual utility referred to in a favorable light. Traditional exegesis identified several texts which mention homosexual activity, all of which describe it negatively, variously as an abomination, against nature, and among a list of sins that, if consistently practiced, bars one from entering God's kingdom."
bullet"Biblical teaching on homosexuality, however, has remained remarkably consistent in the entire millennium of its composition. In this respect it differs markedly with the evolving teaching on divorce within the Bible with which homosexual sins have been compared."
bullet"It is our judgment that on the matter of sexuality the Bible has set a norm for chaste living: fidelity within marriage and continence outside it. Homosexual activity, together with all extra-marital activities, are inherent departures from God's order."

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Site navigation:

Home > Conflict > Homosexuality Faith groups > Denominations > Anglican Church of Canada > here

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Copyright 1999 and 2001 to 2003 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2003-NOV-1
Author: B.A. Robinson

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