Halifax, October 21 -- The Anglican Church of Canada has directed its national staff to begin developing a coordinated response to AIDS, including educational, ethical and medical concerns. The Church's National Executive Council, meeting in Halifax, asked its staff to examine the church's response to AIDS in relations to "educational material which builds awareness and equips clergy and laity in ministering to the victims and families with AIDS."
The Church will also seek to address the AIDS crisis globally through working with its partner churches around the world.
Earlier this year, the bishops of Toronto had received a study document on AIDS which noted that the relationship between AIDS and homosexuality poses a special challenge to the church: "Homophobia ia a more widespread disease than AIDS but possibly more deadly spiritually," it notes.
"Fear cuts both ways. Church people don't want to accept gays, and gays and thus people with AIDS are afraid to tell the church they have AIDS (or that they are gay). This combines to help keep the situation hidden in the church context." The study document was prepared by the Downtown Churchworkers' Association, an organization concerned with issues of urban ministry. The bishops of Toronto forwarded the study document to the National Executive Council of the church for its information.
Although many voices within the Anglican Church have called for greater pastoral care to AIDS victims and their families, the issue became more personal recently when a young man who had been very active in the Anglican Youth Movement died of AIDS.
MEECH LAKE OPPOSED
In other business, the Council opposed the Meech Lake Accord on the grounds that it limits or infringes the rights of native people, women, and Canadians living in the northern Territories.
The Council adopted a resolution which says the Accord denies the rights of the Northwest Territories and Yukon to participate fully in Canadian political and public life.
The National Executive Council concludes its three-day meeting here today. The meeting was held in Halifax to coincide with a celebration of the bicentennial of the first Anglican bishop in Canada, Charles Inglis. A worship service Sunday in Halifax's Metro Center attracted more than 8,000 people. --30--
For further information, contact: David Woeller, General Secretary, or Clarke Raymond, Executive Director of Program, The Anglican Church of Canada 600 Jarvis Street Toronto, ON M4Y 2J6 (416) 924-9192