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Religious Tolerance logo

The Anglican Church of Canada and homosexuality

Events from 2006-JAN to 2007-MAR

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Sponsored link.

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See also coverage of the developments in the New Westminster diocese.

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2006-MAY: Canadian bishops criticize government and church of Nigeria:

The Living Church, reported:

"The House of Bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada has unanimously endorsed a motion expressing 'grave concern' about proposed federal legislation in Nigeria that would prohibit or restrict the freedom of speech and association of gay and lesbian persons."

"The bishops also criticized the Anglican Church of Nigeria for its support of the legislation. The proposed laws 'would make the very act of listening to homosexual persons impossible,' the bishops said following the April 22-27 spring meeting. In what Anglican Journal News described as 'unusually strong language,' the national newspaper for the Anglican Church of Canada reported that the bishops had disassociated themselves from the actions of the Church of Nigeria and called upon Anglicans around the world to listen to and respect the human rights of gay people." 1

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2006-MAY: Married lesbian licensed as priest:

Anglican Bishop Peter Coffin licensed Linda Privitera, an American priest, to work as a priest at St. John the Evangelist Church in Ottawa. She had earlier married another woman in Massachusetts before coming to Canada. He said: "I cannot see [homosexuality] as a sin...We have swept this under the carpet and made people live in fear and in silence." 2

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2006-OCT: Retired archbishop suspended for officiating at same-sex marriage:

Archbishop Terence Finlay, the retired bishop of Toronto, ON, has had a series of interesting conflicts over same-sex relationships and marriages:

bulletIn 1991, he fired Jim Ferry, a male priest in Unionville, ON for being in a loving, same-sex relationship.
bulletIn 2003, he publicly scolded Rev. Sara Boyles, minister at the Holy Trinity Church in Toronto for performing a legal, same-sex marriage.
bulletIn 2004, shortly before he retired, he admonished another Toronto priest for performing a legal same-sex marriage.
bulletIn 2006-Summer, he officiated at the marriage of two women at a United Church in Toronto. The license was signed by the United Church minister, but Finlay officiated and gave his blessing to the union.
bulletIn 2006-Spring, during a public forum in Toronto, he apologized to Jim Ferry for his action in 1991.
bulletIn 2006-OCT, Finlay himself was reprimanded and suspended from performing marriages during the rest of 2006 because he officiated at a same-sex wedding.

Finlay said that:

""Yes, I did participate in a marriage of two dear friends who happen to be gay. One of whom, I have known for many, many years. ... The couple I married are very close friends of our family. I've known one since she was a small child. Her father was one of my theological professors and he was an honorary assistant in one of my parishes. Over the years, our families have remained very close. ... [It was out of a] long journey of love, friendship, support and familial relationship with this particular person and her partner. ... [I] came to the conclusion that their love for one another was part of God's divine love and it was appropriate that that be deeply blessed. ... I'll be quite clear that it wasn't done as a publicity stunt to make waves. I married two people who love each other deeply; they care about the church and I believe their commitment has been blessed by God."

Referring to the upcoming General Synod in Winnipeg, MB during 2007-JUN, Finlay said:

"I think our church has waited a long time and has discussed this issue over and over and in this particular situation, time just run out for me. It's no secret that for many years now I've been in favor of the local option (allowing individual dioceses to decide whether to allow same-sex blessings) and I tried to encourage the church to look at that as a way of addressing the way [in] which the whole sexuality issue has deeply divided some people," he said. "As an active bishop I've followed and I've upheld the oaths of the office that I took and particularly around the issue of unity in the church. But for me now, this issue has moved from one of unity to one of justice."

Rev. Sara Boyles said supported Finlay's action, saying it will give strength to the movement to have homosexual unions recognized by the church. She said:

"It's the calling of the church. He has acted with integrity."

Bishop Colin Johnson, who was elected in 2004-JUN as bishop of Toronto to replace Finlay, said:

"Same-sex marriages are not authorized at this time in the diocese of Toronto and I do not condone diocesan clergy officiating at such marriages, whether in the Anglican Church or elsewhere. ... While there is considerable debate and indeed discord within the diocese and across the Anglican Communion about whether an individual diocese (or even parish) might have authority to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions, the matter of marriage falls clearly under the jurisdiction of the General Synod canons in the Anglican Church of Canada. ... our oaths as ordained persons (i.e. people under Orders) require all of us to uphold the discipline of the canons, even if some of us feel called to work to amend or repeal them." 3,4

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2007-FEB: Tanzanian meeting of the Anglican Communion:

The primates of the Anglican Communion met in Tanzania. They asked the Episcopal Church, USA to reverse its policies of accepting same-sex relationships and sexually active homosexual bishops. On MAR-21, the Episcopal Church declined the request. This makes a formal schism in the Communion almost inevitable when the primate's ultimatum expires in 2007-SEP. It also may make it easier for the Anglican Church of Canada to adopt more liberal policies on sexual orientation during its General Synod of 2007-JUN. 5

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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Canadian Bishops Speak Out Against Church of Nigeria," The Living Church, 2006-MAY-05, at: http://www.livingchurch.org/
  2. "Conservative Anglicans Livid over Lesbian Priest," The Ottawa Citizen, 2006-MAY-20.
  3. Stuart Laidlaw, "Same-sex nuptials rock Anglican Church," Toronto Star, 2006-OCT-03.
  4. Marites N. Sison, "CANADA: Retired Toronto bishop disciplined for performing same-sex marriage," Episcopal News Service, 2006-SEP-30, at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/
  5. Stuart Laidlaw, "Anglicans facing schism: Bishops in U.S. reject demands to end their support for gay marriages, clergy," Toronto Star, 2007-MAR-22, at: http://www.thestar.com/

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Copyright © 2006 & 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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