TORONTO (May 3, 1996) -- Anglican bishops have sent a message to the House of Commons expressing their support for human rights amendments banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"This is based on the church's belief that all persons are created in the image of God and that Christ died for all," the bishops said in a statement.
They added: "This statement is consistent with the existing policy of the Canadian House of Bishops since 1979, reaffirmed by the General Synod in 1995, that condemns bigotry, violence and hatred directed towards anyone due to their sexual orientation.
"We wish to make it clear to the church that this action does not change the current status of the 1979 statement with respect to the ordination of homosexual persons. This continues to be a matter of discussion and theological reflection within the House as within the church at large. No change of doctrine and discipline is being implied. Rather the Gospel imperative of love, compassion and justice is being upheld which continues to be the call of every Christian."
The House of Bishops is an assembly of all active Canadian Anglican bishops. It normally meets twice a year.
Earlier this week, a similar statement of support for the legislation was released on behalf of the church's governing body by Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod.
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Contact Rev. Gordon Light, principal secretary to the Primate, (416) 924-9199 ext. 277; Doug Tindal, Director of Communications (416) 924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence)
The Most Rev. Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has accused the federal government of ignoring "its constitutional responsibility to deal directly with the Mohawk Nation" to resolve the aboriginal land rights conflict at Oka, Quebec.
In a first letter to the Prime Minister, dated July 12, Archbishop Peers urged the Federal Government to "become more directly involved with the negotiations until there is a land claims agreement in place which is acceptable to the Mohawk nation." He also urged that the situation be resolved by nonviolent means; that all armaments be put down; and that the police be withdrawn.
He pointed out that "underlying the conflict are the issues of Land Claims and development of Aboriginal Lands. These issues are a federal responsibility."
In a follow-up letter, dated July 26, the Primate expressed dismay that the federal government continues to ignore its constitutional responsibility to deal directly with the Mohawk Nation.
"The actions of your government lead me to the conclusion that you reject the Supreme Court of Canada's position in the recent Sparrow case that 'the relationship between the Government and aboriginals is trust-like, rather than adversarial...'."
"I am also disturbed," he added, "by the continuation of human rights violations by the Surete du Quebec. Yesterday the Quebec Human Rights Commission declared that 'the massive police operation against Mohawks in Oka is illegal'. The provincial police, through harassment and discrimination, are violating the fundamental rights of people living behind blockades, including the denial of food and medical services. As External Affairs Minister Joe Clark told the House of Commons two years ago, 'food should not be used as a weapon.'."
The Anglican Church of Canada has long been an advocate of the justice struggles of Native peoples in Canada. The General Synod in 1989 expressed its support of nonviolent direct action in defence of unsurrendered Aboriginal Ancestral land, stating "That Aboriginal Peoples and Anglicans and others involved in nonviolent direct action in defence of unsurrendered Aboriginal ancestral lands and their environment be supported."
"It is crucial that the Federal Government make the just settlement of land claims a priority. Such action would do much to create healing between the government and the First Nations of this land" the letter concludes.
For more information, contact: The Reverend Peter Hamel, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario, 416-924-9192
TORONTO (May 1, 1996) -- Following is the text of a letter sent today to federal Justice Minister Alan Rock by Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada:
"I am writing to you in support of the proposed legislation to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"In 1979, the National House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada made the following statement of principle:
`We believe as Christians, that homosexual persons, as children of God, have a full and equal claim, with all other persons, upon the love, acceptance, concern and pastoral care of the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ compels Christians to guard against all forms of human injustice, and to affirm that all persons are brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. We affirm that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law with all other Canadian citizens.'
"As well, in June of 1995, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada passed a resolution which agreed to
`affirm the presence of gay men and lesbians in the life of the church and to condemn bigotry, violence and hatred directed toward any due to their sexual orientation.'
"These remain positions which we strongly support. We do not believe that anyone should be discriminated against because of gender, race, creed, colour or sexual orientation.
"Given these statements of our Church, I would like to encourage you government in its endeavour to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation on the protected list."
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Contact Archdeacon Jim Boyles, (416) 924-9199 ext. 280 or Doug Tindal, Director of Communication (416) 924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence) or Sam Carriere, Media Relations: (416) 924-9199, ext. 256
A member expressed his feeling that it would be appropriate to send to the Canadian government support for the proposed amendment before the legislature regarding the Canadian Human Rights Act. He inquired whether the House would be prepared to do so. The change to the Act would make discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal.
That the House of Bishops support the legislation before the House of Commons to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Moved by: Bishop Williams
Seconded by: Bishop Buckle
That the motion be amended to include:
That the House of Bishops never-the-less still holds to those sections of the 1979 (House of Bishops) Statement regarding the orientation of homosexual men and lesbians." LOST
During the discussion that followed some members expressed their feelings that the amendment was inappropriate to send to the Canadian government, because legislation does not affect the internal workings of the Church. Also, it was agreed that if a motion of support was passed, the House needed to
1) send the motion of support to the Canadian government, and;
2) send a press statement to the Church.
Moved by: Bishop Burton
Seconded by: Bishop Lawrence
That the motion begin with:
"In accordance with the national House of Bishops 1979 Statement of Principle and reaffirming the 1995 resolution of General Synod ..." LOST
(The 1979 Statement would be appended)
Concern was expressed about not receiving the information before hand. The speaker complained about a pattern in meetings of putting motions before the House is prepared to vote on them (the motions).
The motion was put before the House. CARRIED
Archbishop Peers asked Bishop Ingham and Bishop Burton to write a statement to the Church from the House about the motion of support for the proposed amendment to the Human Rights Act before the legislature. The Primate requested that their statement be brought back for discussion over lunch.
A plea was made to the Agenda Committee, to schedule issues which require time for some thought earlier on the agenda, rather than at the end when the House is drained of energy and pressed for time.
The House of Bishops adjourned for chapel.
Over lunch the press statement written by Bishop Burton and Bishop Ingham was approved by those present.
ANGLICAN BISHOPS SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS AMENDMENTS
The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada has today sent a message to the House of Commons in support of the Human Rights Act. This is based on the church's belief that all persons are created in the image of God, and that Christ died for all. This statement is consistent with the existing policy of the Canadian House of Bishops since 1979, reaffirmed by the General Synod in 1995, that condemns bigotry, violence and hatred directed towards anyone due to their sexual orientation.
We wish to make it clear to the church that this action does not change the current status of the 1979 statement with respect to the ordination of homosexual persons. This continues to be a matter of discussion and theological reflection within the House, as within the church at large. No change of doctrine and discipline is being implied. Rather the Gospel imperative of live, compassion and justice is being upheld which continues to be the call of every Christian.
[N.B. Revised and corrected text of this resolution taken from Appendix x attached to the Minutes of the House of Bishops Meeting 28 October - 1 November 1996, see Resolution entitled "Minutes of the Last Meeting", p. 11.]
That the Council of General Synod establish a task force to develop a program that will assist dioceses to implement the standards of Dignity, Inclusion and Fair Treatment and that the Primate be asked to write to Diocesan Bishops reminding them of the passage of Dignity, Inclusion and Fair Treatment by General Synod and advising them of the existence of the task group. CARRIED #026-11-01
In response to concerns about the type of support needed and its costs, Archdeacon Boyles noted that general support could possibly be in the form of conference calls, emails, etc. and, while the COGS budget could accommodate a small task force, any programs would have to find monies form the current budget. The intent would be to bring a proposal to Council.