That this General Synod adopt the following "Covenant of Protection" as policy and direct the Council of the General Synod to develop a process for implementation.
Since 1949, General Synod has been urging Canadian and foreign governments to conform their policies to principles of Universal Human Rights. This position of the church is deeply rooted in Scripture.
In the first chapter of Genesis we read that all human beings have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). We conclude from this that all human beings, regardless of their background, identity, status, ability, accomplishment or belief have a fundamental dignity which comes from God. All members of the Anglican Church affirm this position when, in the words of our baptismal covenant we promise to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being."
As Christians, we also acknowledge with St. Paul that we have done those things we ought not to have done and we have not done those things we ought to have done. We are sinners and we need to build into the structures of our common life the same standards of right behaviour and safeguards against discrimination that we demand of others. We do this in the knowledge that the real test of our support for human rights is how we treat the minorities in our midst -- the poor, the stranger, the outcast and the foreigner (Matthew 25:40).
In the summary of the Law recorded in the Gospel of Mark, we are told by Jesus that we must love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength, and love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31). From this we understand that Christians are a covenant community called by God to join others in protecting the rights of all persons in society and in the church. One of the ways we do this is by ensuring that our own processes of participation and deliberation are fair and transparent.
COVENANT OF PROTECTION
The Anglican Church of Canada enters into a Covenant of Protection with its members, with its employees, and with those who seek the services of the church, in order to protect vulnerable persons. We call this Covenant, "Human Rights Principles."
1. The right to be treated with courtesy, compassion and integrity
All persons who seek the services of the church, including sacraments, counsel and pastoral care, shall be treated with courtesy, compassion and integrity by the church and its representatives or officials, without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of) origin, ancestry, disability, creed or socio-economic status.
2. The right to fair treatment
a) All persons receiving educational, medical or financial assistance from the church shall be treated fairly and without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of) origin, ancestry, disability, creed or socio-economic status.
b) All persons occupying church property or being accommodated in institutions provided by or governed by the church shall be treated fairly within the stated purposes of these institutions and without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of) origin, ancestry, disability, creed or socio-economic status.
3. The right to vote
All baptized persons who qualify, in accordance with the relevant canons and constitutions, shall be eligible to vote at General Meetings of their Parish and Synod without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of) origin, ancestry, disability, or socio-economic status.
4. The right to be considered for election
All baptized persons who qualify, in accordance with the relevant canons and constitutions, are eligible to hold elected positions in the church without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of ) origin, ancestry, disability, or socio-economic status.
5. The right to be considered for service
All baptized persons who qualify, in accordance with the relevant canons, constitutions and guidelines, shall be eligible to have their vocations tested and to be considered for service in the life and on the committees of the church without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of) origin, ancestry, disability, or socio-economic status.
6. The rights of employees
All persons employed by the church in positions not requiring ordination shall be employed on the basis of ability, skills and experience appropriate to the position without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of) origin, ancestry, disability, or socio-economic status. [Revised 11 November 1999 -- See GS minutes pg. 58. The amendment to leave these words out was defeated but when re-transcribed the words were left out.]
Six members of Synod requested a vote by orders, in accordance with Section III of the Rules of Order and Procedure.
The resolution was then put in the Order of Laity and - CARRIED
The resolution was then put in the Order of Clergy and - CARRIED
The resolution was then put in the Order of Bishops and - DEFEATED Act 78
The Prolocutor confirmed that the resolution had been Defeated.
[Correction of General Synod minutes by Chancellor Ron Stevens amended first sentence in paragraph 6 on p. 104 to be the same as paragraph 6 on p. 55. Correspondence dated 15 November 1999 laid in original General Synod Journal of Proceedings.]
Act 5 of the 36th General Session of the General Synod, held in Waterloo, Ontario, p. 19 enacted the following: "That the minutes of the 35th Session of the General Synod, held in Montreal, Quebec, May 21-29, 1998, as printed in the Journal and as approved by the Certification of Minutes Committee, be adopted subject to the insertion of the words "in positions not requiring ordination" in the first line of paragraph numbered 6 on page 104. CARRIED Act 5"
In the light of the Government's announcement of a new Abortion Bill, the Anglican Church reaffirms its position that both the rights and needs of women, and the rights and needs of the unborn, require protection.
The Church welcomes a non-gestational approach. This accords with the Church's opposition to any arbitrary division which would make early abortion available on demand. The Church's fundamental position is that "abortion is always the taking of human life and, in our view, should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons". However, the Church's Abortion report affirms that:
-an upper limit should be established at which "there is no reasonable prospect of viability"
- there should be a waiting period during which time counselling to women should be made available
- other alternatives to abortion explored including "social and financial supports to meet the needs of the woman, in housing accommodation, child care, employment, retraining, welfare benefits, and income support, as well as consideration of adoption of the baby expected."
The Church further affirms that there should be a conscience clause, so that "the conscientious right of health care personnel to refrain from participating in abortion procedures be guaranteed."
The Church also is "opposed in principle" to "anticipated genetic defect in the foetus as automatic grounds for abortion", because as Christians we are "called to be the voice of the voiceless and powerless (and) must speak out when those different from or less able than the norm are to be denied the full rights accorded their fellow humans".
The Church's Abortion Report also recommends legislation to "ban commercial transactions in human genetic material"; or any possibility of deliberate abortion for purposes of "foetal cell farming" for human transplants, and welcomes the recent announcement of a Royal Commission on reproductive techniques "as a vehicle to examine these concerns and develop legislative measures".
The Anglican Church sees abortion as a public justice issue, challenging Canadians to build a society that affirms human life, which values children and welcomes a new generation, and which provides legal and social protection for women caught in the trauma of problem pregnancies. Such extensive social legislation, to reduce conditions which make the choice of abortion more likely, would include:
- programs and education to combat violence against women
- more affordable housing
- pay equity for women
- a guaranteed annual income, and other financial measures
- universally accessible, publicly funded day care
- an intensified national program to collect child support payments from delinquent fathers
- better educational programs about sexuality and contraception in schools
The Church does not see abortion as simply a "woman's issue" but rather a community issue, which takes place on the battleground of women's bodies. Concerned that women are frequently forced to choose between marginalization and poverty or abortion, the Church believes that in many circumstances women are not "free" to choose to bear their children and so, because society fails to provide supportive structures, "abortion has become a means of `restructuring the woman' by emptying the womb". Many Canadian women who choose not to bear their child make their decision out of alienation and hopelessness. "True choice must involve alternatives to despair" the Report concludes.
Abortion In a New Perspective: Report of the Task Force on Abortion, is available from: The Anglican Book Centre, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2J6
For further information contact: The Reverend Michael Ingham, Principal Secretary to the Primate, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario, (416) 924-9192; Mrs. Diane Marshall (Family therapist, Report co-author) (416) 487-3613; Mrs. Phyllis Creighton (Research historian, Report co-author) (416) 978-2245
25. The Committee may, in special cases of need, make a grant to any Bishop or Clergyman, whether otherwise qualified or not, who is temporarily disabled, provided that such grant shall not exceed $400.00 in any year, and provided the revenue of the Fund is sufficient to meet the payments provided for under sections 21,29,30 and 31.
"That whereas a challenge to the Church's interest in the Blind was evident in the address made to the General Synod by the Rev. A. Pickering; that, the Upper House concurring, this Synod recommend that the Council for Social Service take necessary and considerate action with a view to establishing a Chaplaincy for work amongst the Blind in some convenient centre."
The Upper House amends resolution - C.S.S. to investigate. MESSAGE OO-1
Resolved, That the Lower House concurs in Message OO-1 as amended. MESSAGE OO-1A.
[In the course of presenting the Triennial Report of the Council for Social Service, it was noted on page 96 of the Journal of Proceedings of General Synod that: "The Rev. Arthur Pickering, a blind Priest of the Diocese of Fredericton, addressed the Synod on the work of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and was listened to with deep interest and sympathy".
"The Anglican Church of Canada should continue to focus on providing pastoral care to people who are considering medical assistance in dying (MAID), not on opposing the law, says Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Bill C-7, passed in March 2021, opened up the option for patients whose deaths are not imminent -- and, as of next March , those suffering only from mental disorders -- to seek MAID, attracting some controversy. As the 'Journal' reported in the first part of this series, some advocates for the rights of people with disabilities have criticized it on the grounds that it offers death as a replacement for adequate care. (See 'Justice and the new assisted death', September , p. 1.) And at least two authors of 'In Sure and Certain Hope', a 2016 document offered as a resource for discussions around MAID, before the bill raises questions which many require a new response from the church" (p. 1-3).
Dr. Jonathan Reggler, co-chair of the clinicians' advisory council for Dying with Dignity Canada, argues that while providing patients with alternatives should always be the goal, it would be unrealistic, even cruel, to deny them MAID when those alternatives lie out of reach" (p. 3).
Canon Eric Beresford, who was chair of the task force that produced 'In Sure and Certain Hope' has said, "based on his experience of the debate so far ... a religious institution may not be best suited to taking on a new position on MAID. 'One has to be a little careful here because my experience is that those who advocate for expanding MAID will love it if we get heavily involved in the frontlines of opposing it. The argument will be "See, these people are trying to impose religious values on the rest of society"'" (p. 3).
"Nicholls says she encourages parishes to be involved in their congregants' care, ensuring they have the support they need to make decisions based on the value of life, not the desperation of their circumstances. And she also suggests that they be active in their own communities, advocating for adequate social services, respite care and palliative care, especially in remote and rural areas, where resources are often spread thin" (p. 3).
That this General Synod records its gratification upon the provisions recently made available to the permanently and totally disabled people in Canada by Federal and Provincial Authorities, and also heartily commends the national rehabilitation programmes whereby many of our handicapped citizens may be restored to spheres of useful and normal living. CARRIED in both Houses.
Mary Parslow is a deacon in the parish of South Peace, B.C. and also "a `helping teacher' in the field of disabled children." "Ordained in 1991, Ms. Parslow's job is to integrate handicapped and learning disabled children into mainstream classes."