The Anglican Journal spoke with Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada, who recognized the likelihood of Anglicans on both sides of the same-gender marriage issue being hurt by whatever decision is made during this summer’s General Synod, as well as the possibility of parishioners and parishes leaving the Church.
And if decisions made by the General Synod are a point of disagreement within the communion (i.e. a vote against same-gender marriage), Hiltz says
“there could be some ‘civil disobedience’ on the part of clergy and parishes, and the bishops are going to have to handle that, because all of us that are ordained make a solemn promise to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Anglican Church of Canada.”
Same-sex marriage must pass its first reading with a two-thirds majority in three bodies: bishops, priests and lay people, and right now the bishops’ vote is the most doubted. General Synod will also address topics including Muslim dialogue and the refugee crisis. Decisions on same-sex marriage have particularly strong pastoral implications for the bishops, perhaps a third of whom are still undecided.
“We’re all going into this synod knowing there will be pastoral implications no matter which way this vote goes, and every single bishop in our church has to deal with those pastoral implications,” he said.
“I know it’s difficult for people to hear me say this, but…if it doesn’t pass, the LGBT community is going to be deeply upset—if not, in fact, deeply offended,” Hiltz added. “And we will have to seize that as a challenge and an opportunity as a church to be, I think, much more deeply engaged with them in terms of their lived experience of their lived covenantal love one for another.”
Bishop Larry Robertson of the Diocese of Yukon, says,
“Regardless of what happens, people are going to be affected—whether there is a ‘no’ vote, or a ‘yes’ vote, or a delay vote or whatever it is,” he said. “We spent some time on just how do we then deal with the hurt and the pain of a result that people weren’t expecting or didn’t want.”