Leaders of the world's Anglican churches said Tuesday that they cannot support ceremonies blessing gay and lesbian relationships, which one bishop in Canada has permitted. "The question of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy," primates of the 38 national churches and provinces said in a statement following their meeting in Gramado in southern
Brazil. "The archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe and that there is no theological consensus about same-sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorization of such rites," continued the statement, released by the
Anglican Communion Office in London. "This is distinct from the duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations."
The bishop of Vancouver, Michael Ingham, divided his own diocese by approving blessing rituals for gays. The bishop of the Yukon, Terrence Buckle, inflamed the controversy this year by offering to become an alternate leader for conservatives in Ingham's diocese. Homosexuality has been a deeply divisive issue among Anglican churches. The Anglican Communion's leader, archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has drawn criticism for ordaining a gay man when he was primate of the church in Wales. Williams's personal views place him in the liberal wing of the church, but since being appointed to the Canterbury post, he has pledged to affirm the 1998 Lambeth Conference declaration that homosexual relations are "incompatible with Scripture." The declaration also opposed the blessing of same-sex unions.