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Archbishop of Canterbury upset over same-sex couple rites in Canada

Archbishop of Canterbury upset over same-sex couple rites in Canada

The archbishop of Canterbury expressed "sadness" Thursday over a Canadian diocese's decision to permit blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. The statement from the Reverend Rowan Williams came a day after Anglican leaders, following a meeting in Brazil, declared that there is no theological consensus for supporting such rites. On May 23, Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia authorized six parishes in the Vancouver area to administer the rite. "In taking this action and ignoring the considerable reservations of the church, repeatedly expressed and most recently by the primates, the diocese has gone significantly further than the teaching of the church or pastoral concern can justify, and I very much regret the inevitable tension and division that will result from this development," Williams said in a statement released by his office. The Canadian service, called "a rite for the celebration of gay and lesbian covenants," was authorized by the synod of the New Westminster diocese last year. "This is not a marriage ceremony but a blessing of permanent and faithful commitments between persons of the same sex in order that they may have the support and encouragement of the church in their lives together under God," Ingham said in a letter. The step has caused bitter divisions within the diocese. Some opposed to the blessing of same-sex couples accepted an offer from Yukon's bishop Terrence Buckle to become their alternative leader. The role of gays in the church has become one of the most divisive issues in the Anglican Communion, which claims to represent 77 million people worldwide, including 686,000 in the Anglican Church of Canada. Williams, who was enthroned as leader of the Church of England and the wider communion earlier this year, has drawn fire from conservative evangelicals because of his liberal views on the issue. His critics have been outraged that Williams ordained a gay man as priest while he was primate of the church in Wales.

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