The world governing body of the Anglican community reasserted its authority Tuesday over local churches that have defied its traditional views on same-sex unions, gay priests, and laypeople presiding at communion. The Anglican Consultative Council, one of three bodies that oversees the Anglican community, adopted a resolution that asks dioceses and individual bishops not to unilaterally take actions that would strain the Anglican Communion--the global community's official name--without consulting higher authorities.
Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the Anglicans' spiritual leader and council president, who proposed the resolution, warned the council meeting in Hong Kong "not to go it alone." The council has 70 representatives from 38 regions around the world.
The measure, passed with one abstention and no opposition, is a response to recent incidents that have tested the church's tolerance on issues of sexuality as well as an Australian diocese's move to allow laypeople to hold communion. In June, Bishop Michael Ingham of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster agreed to bless same-sex unions. An East Vancouver church under his jurisdiction is harboring three Ugandan gay men who are escaping persecution in their home country. In September, Philadelphia bishop Charles Bennison deposed the Reverend David Moyer after Moyer publicly opposed his approval of same-sex unions and gay and female priests.
The resolution, which stopped short of imposing specific views on local churches, marks the latest effort by Anglican leaders to unite a community increasingly divided on the issue of sexuality. The 1998 Lambeth Conference, another Anglican international governing body, stated its strong opposition to gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex couples. But the Canadian Anglican Church and the U.S. branch, known as the Episcopal Church, still allow local churches to make up their on minds regarding same-sex unions.