Second Anglican diocese in Canada OKs same sex blessings but bishop withholds consent

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2004

HAMILTON, Ontario (AP) A synod of the Anglican Church of Canada's Niagara Diocese voted 213-106 to authorize blessings for same-sex couples, but Bishop Ralph Spence withheld his required endorsement for the measure to go into effect.

Bishop Michael Ingham approved same-sex blessings in the New Westminster (Vancouver area) Diocese in 2002, after the synod there approved the idea for a third time, causing an international uproar.

The Toronto Diocese takes up the issue Nov. 27.

Spence said he personally agreed with the majority but must be ''the bishop for all people'' and ''try to keep unity with the rest of the church.''

An emergency international Anglican panel said last month that bishops should not authorize such blessings. The top 38 leaders of world Anglicanism meet on this and related recommendations in February.

The Niagara motion stated that the bishop would grant priests ''permission to exercise their discretion in blessing the relationship of gay or lesbian couples who have been married civilly'' after their congregations applied for permission.

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