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CANADA: Gays seen as part of Anglican power struggle

CANADA: Gays seen as part of Anglican power struggle

By MICHAEL VALPY
The Globe and Mail

June 27, 2005

The head of the Anglican Church of Canada is expected to spell out today what price will be paid by members of the faith in Canada, the U.S. and the rest of the world if the global Anglican Communion falls apart over homosexuality.

Following last week's international Anglican meeting -- from which Canadian and U.S. delegates were excluded and their submissions on homosexuality in church life rejected -- the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, is scheduled to deliver three lectures beginning today at a major conference in the University of Toronto's Trinity College Divinity School on the future of the Anglican Communion.

The U.S. church appointed Gene Robinson, a practising homosexual, as bishop of New Hampshire and several dioceses bless same-sex unions. In Canada, the Vancouver diocese of New Westminster has approved same-sex blessings and the Canadian church's governing synod passed a resolution last year acknowledging the sacredness of committed homosexual relationships.

Conservative national Anglican churches label homosexuality a sin and say it is condemned by God's own words in the Bible and contrary to doctrine approved by the church's bishops at their last decennial gathering, the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Archbishop Hutchison was not able to spell out yesterday what he plans to say at Trinity. He had a high fever throughout last week's meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham, England, and last night, having returned to Toronto, he had lost his voice.

Senior Canadians Anglicans present for the council see homosexuality as a proxy issue in a power struggle for control of the Anglican Communion by evangelical global South Anglican leaders well financed by conservative Anglicans in the U.S. In other words, homosexuality itself isn't the issue on which the communion may fracture: it is homosexuality plus the ordination of women priests and appointments of women bishops, plus modernization of the liturgy, plus a raft of other changes such as allowing children to take communion.

Senior Canadian Anglicans think Archbishop Hutchison may have made a mistake in agreeing that the Canadian church -- along with the U.S. church -- would voluntarily withdraw from last week's council meeting.

The council dismissed the presentations without discussion, and an attempt was made to bar the Canadian and U.S. churches from participation in all international church bodies. That failed, but, by a slim margin, the council voted to exclude the North Americans from participating in two committees they don't now belong to.

"If we hadn't agreed to voluntarily withdraw and had turned up [in Nottingham] as full participants, it would have provoked a crisis and maybe the Nigerians [Nigerian primate Peter Akinola is the most vociferous opponent of including active homosexuals in church life] would have walked out," said a top Canadian Anglican official who agreed to speak only for background.

"Then we would have seen how much strength is behind the Nigerians."

The Canadians believe the infrastructure of the Anglican Communion will collapse if the Canadian and American churches are barred from participating in the international church. The two North American churches provide most of the money for the world-church machinery.

The Canadians also believe that the next campaign by evangelical Anglicans will be to get liberal bishops of the two churches excluded from Lambeth 2008.

Finally, the Canadians believe conservative Anglican organizations in Canada and the U.S. are waiting in the wings for their official churches to be barred from the communion, when they will rush in and proclaim themselves true Anglicans.

END

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