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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
No gay blessings in Canada Church
By Ian Gunn
BBC News, Vancouver

Vote scrutinisers at Canadian synod
The proposal failed, but by the narrowest of margins
The Anglican Church of Canada has decided against offering blessing ceremonies to same-sex couples.

A proposal to allow blessings dominated the Church's General Synod meeting in the city of Winnipeg.

Opponents said the Church should not endorse homosexuality, while supporters urged it to break from tradition.

But while this may ease tensions in the wider Anglican community, it is not clear it settles the issue in Canada, where gay marriage is already legal.

Split threat

After two days of debate, bishops at the meeting narrowly defeated the proposal by the narrowest of margins.

Three groups each needed to give separate approval.

A majority of clergy and lay Anglicans voted in favour of gay blessings. But bishops at the meeting voted by just two votes against the motion and without their support, the proposal failed.

The newly-elected head of the Anglican Church of Canada says the outcome is disappointing for everyone.

Bishop Fred Hiltz says the vote was so very close that few Anglicans on either side of the debate will take much comfort in it.

The results suggest that Anglicans in Canada generally support the idea of their churches offering same-sex blessings.

And, according to one bishop, the crucial "no" vote by bishops did not mean "no", so much as "not now" because beyond any religious objections to gay blessings, the Anglican leadership are acutely aware that moves in Canada and the US to liberalise Church views on homosexuality have threatened to split the international Anglican family.

This vote may ease those tensions a little, but for Anglicans in Canada, the effects are less clear.

A handful of parishes already offer gay blessings and it remains to be seen whether this vote will stop that practice and with further debates on the subject possible in the future, many Anglicans at the meeting suspect this closely-watched vote has actually settled very little.

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