Like their U.S. neighbors, Canadian Anglicans are facing a crisis over homosexuality. Delegates passed a resolution just before the final gavel to affirm the "integrity and sanctity" of committed same-sex relationships when they met in June in St. Catharines, Ontario.

The vote came a day after the 300 delegates to General Synod, which meets every three years, had agreed to defer the question of blessing same-sex unions until 2007 while a theological commission studies whether the issue is a matter of doctrine.

Lauded by liberals as a step toward full acceptance of gay unions in the church, the decision to affirm gay unions was quickly followed by a strong statement from nine conservative bishops. They said, "General Synod's opinion is in error and contrary to the teaching of Scripture and the tradition of the undivided Church."

The problem is with the word sanctity. Garth Bulmer, the priest who made the motion, says he was using the word "not in a technical, theological sense so much as a pastoral sense." But to Archbishop Drexel Gomez, primate of the West Indies, the word sanctity is the same as holiness and should be reserved for marriage. Within hours of the decision Gomez sent a message to conservative Anglicans saying, "It is completely unacceptable to Bible-believing orthodox Christians that same-sex unions are described as 'holy.'"

Anglican Essentials, a 10-year-old coalition of orthodox Anglicans who worked behind the scenes in encouraging synod delegates to approach issues from a biblical perspective, also issued a statement, saying they "repudiate and distance" themselves from the decision. "Sanctity equals blessing," says Charlie Masters, Essentials national director.

Essentials leaders are urging conservative Anglicans ...

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