The Anglican Church of Canada seemed ready to edge away from a showdown over homosexuality Wednesday, when the authors of a proposal that would let dioceses provide same-sex blessing ceremonies replaced that bill with one that called for more study.
Delegates expressed concern about the effect a green light for the blessing ceremonies would have on the Canadian church as well as the international 77 million-member Anglican Communion of which it is a part. World Anglicanism is already severely split over consecration of an openly gay bishop by the Episcopal Church in the United States.
It remained possible that liberals would try to restore the original proposal to allow "local option" on gay policies, meaning each diocese would get to decide for itself whether to allow the blessing ceremonies. However, a revised proposal seemed to be gaining momentum as it headed into a scheduled debate Wednesday night. The new proposal calls for a two-year study as to whether same-sex rituals are "a matter of doctrine," delaying action till the next national meeting in 2007.
If the 2007 meeting finds that central church teaching is involved and still wants to allow same-sex unions, amendment of church law at two consecutive meetings would then be required, further delaying possible approval until at least 2010.