Difficult dialogue

  • June 29, 2007

The Anglican Church of Canada dodged a bullet last month. By the tiniest of margins, it failed to approve the blessing of same-sex couples. Yet the manner in which it did so suggests that the issue will continue to plague Anglicans worldwide, along with Roman Catholics, who are far from disinterested observers.


Only the votes of two bishops stopped the Canadian Anglicans from national approval for same-sex blessings (see article on Page 3). A majority of laity and clergy in fact approved of the change. And earlier in the day, a majority of all three sectors in the church approved a motion that said same-sex blessings did not contradict core doctrine “in a creedal sense,” whatever that means.

Canadian Anglicans have been on the leading edge of the move to give same-sex relationships the same theological status as heterosexual marriages. Along with their American counterparts, they have courted schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion, riling their more traditional colleagues in many developing nations. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, though in favour of same-sex blessings himself, has tried to steer a middle path and keep the communion from splitting asunder.

Roman Catholics can with some justice feel like the jilted suitor at the dance. While the two churches have painstakingly pursued common ground for bringing them closer to unity, individual churches within the Anglican Communion have continually put obstacles in the path. Same-sex blessings are only the latest roadblock; women’s ordination has already made ecumenical dialogue — a difficult task at the best of times — even more problematic.

What grounds for agreement can there be when one of the partners continues to drift further away from the other? The participants in ecumenical dialogue have soldiered bravely on, knowing that Jesus Christ commands that “all may be one.” They have continued to have the backing of Roman Catholic popes, though Pope Benedict has reminded us all that ecumenical dialogue is not a search for a compromise theology, but for a common understanding of the truth.

Still, Catholics are really only bystanders in this debate. We can continue to love and pray for our Anglican friends that they may find ways to overcome this challenge and stay true to the church bequeathed to the world by Jesus.

AI’s explanation

Last week we published an article by Amnesty International Canada rebutting our June 10 editorial on the organization’s headlong descent into supporting abortion. In our editorial, we complained that the process in which this decision was made was neither transparent nor democratic.

Unfortunately, the article by Amnesty did nothing to clear things up. It merely repeated earlier assertions that there were “extensive consultations.” We still don’t know how many people took part or how they voted. But that appears to be all the information we’re going to get.

We can only conclude that the chiefs at Amnesty International would rather conduct a public relationships campaign than a true democratic process.

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