The Anglican Church of Canada and homosexuality
Events from 2006-JAN to
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
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
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:
||In 1991, he fired Jim Ferry, a male priest in Unionville, ON for being
in a loving, same-sex relationship.
||In 2003, he publicly scolded Rev. Sara Boyles, minister at the Holy
Trinity Church in Toronto for performing a legal, same-sex marriage.
||In 2004, shortly before he retired, he admonished another Toronto priest
for performing a legal same-sex marriage.
||In 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.
||In 2006-Spring, during a public forum in Toronto, he apologized to Jim
Ferry for his action in 1991.
||In 2006-OCT, Finlay himself was reprimanded and suspended from
performing marriages during the rest of 2006 because he officiated at a
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,
"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
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
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Canadian Bishops Speak Out Against Church of Nigeria," The
Living Church, 2006-MAY-05, at:
"Conservative Anglicans Livid over Lesbian Priest," The Ottawa
Stuart Laidlaw, "Same-sex nuptials rock Anglican Church," Toronto
Marites N. Sison, "CANADA: Retired Toronto bishop disciplined for
performing same-sex marriage," Episcopal News Service, 2006-SEP-30, at:
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:
Copyright © 2006 & 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2007-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson