From our friends to the north

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has published his reflections on last week’s deliberations in London.

In an extensive review of the week-long gathering, Archbishop Hiltz commended the work of the Primates in addressing poverty, war, climate change, and child abuse. He, as others, characterized the gathering as steeped in prayer. There was, of course, one overriding issue of concern.

This meeting of the Primates was particularly challenging with respect to the tending of our relationships in light of the developments in The Episcopal Church regarding the change in its Canon on Marriage making provision for the blessing of same sex marriages.  I, of course, was deeply mindful of a call from General Synod 2013 for the enacting of a similar change in our own Canon, the first reading of which is scheduled for our General Synod this summer.

Since returning home, I am especially mindful of the pain the LGBTQ community within our Church is feeling.  I am very sorry.  I acknowledge their frustration and that of their supporters in being made to feel like the sacrificial offering on the altar of the Church’s unity.  I recognize that many are angry and deeply disillusioned with the very Church in which they endeavour to live out their lives as disciples of Jesus.  I know that for some it is in fact very difficult to remain within its fellowship, and that it will take a great resolve of will and courage to do so.

I apologize for the manner in which the Church has often regarded the LGBTQ community and condemned their lives with very harsh language. I call on our Church to re-affirm its commitment to rejecting anywhere in the world criminal sanctions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer or questioning people. I call on our Church to renew its resolve in listening to the voices and the stories of its LGBTQ members as we wrestle through conversations regarding the pastoral care we are called to provide for all people. I ask the prayers of the whole Church for the LGBTQ people in the midst of the hurt they are bearing and the hope to which they cling for the recognition and sacramental blessing of their relationships.

Hiltz addressed criticisms that he had not stood closely enough with Presiding Bishop Curry, saying that he “empathized” with Bishop Curry, recognized the “frustration” that would attend the Episcopal Church not being able to serve on ecumenical councils, and had covenanted to “uphold in my prayers” both Bishop Curry and the Episcopal Church. It was not open to him, argued Dr Hiltz, to offer to suffer the same consequences alongside his brother bishop, since this would preempt the decisions of the Anglican Church of Canada’s own General Synod this July.

Read the full response of the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada here.

Photo: Archbishop Fred Hiltz

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