Canadian woman bishop withdraws from race for Anglican leader

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004

TORONTO (AP) A female bishop who was a candidate for head of the Anglican Church of Canada has withdrawn from the election after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

If she had won, Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton would have been the first woman in the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion to lead a province.

Matthews was the first female bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada, and is the country's only female diocesan bishop. She expects to be on medical leave for up to a year.

The election for provincial leader called a primate will be held next Monday during the weeklong General Synod of the Canadian church in St. Catharine's, Ontario. Church leaders are expected to take up the divisive issue of whether to allow blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

A year ago, the diocese in Vancouver, British Columbia, authorized a blessing ceremony for a gay couple, prompting some parishes to separate themselves from diocesan leaders.

Three candidates for primate remain. They are Bishop Ronald Ferris of Algoma, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Montreal, and Bishop Caleb Lawrence of Moosonee.

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