Canadian Anglicans Elect Leader
By CHARMAINE NORONHA
The Associated Press
Friday, June 22, 2007; 6:25 PM
Bishop Fred Hiltz of
The vote came one day before the assembly, called the General Synod, is to decide whether to allow Anglican priests to bless
Chris Ambidge, president of the
The leader of the Anglican church, called a primate, does not directly set such policy for the church; that is the role of the General Synod.
Still, the Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, head of the conservative Canadian group Anglican Essentials, said the election of Hiltz raised "fears" about the future of the denomination.
"He is the first bishop who has publicly given his support to
Hiltz, 53, will succeed Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, who is retiring at the end of this meeting.
Hiltz, who is married to Lynne Samways and has a son, refused to discuss his personal views after the election, but he said he worries that a vote in favor of
"I will do all I can to encourage people to stay in the church and remain respectful at table and in conversations," Hiltz said.
The vote comes at a time when divisions over the Bible and homosexuality are tearing at the world Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member fellowship of churches that trace their roots back hundreds of years to the Church of England.
Most of the world's Anglicans are theological conservatives who believe gay relationships violate Scripture. More liberal Anglicans emphasize social justice teachings in the Bible, leading them to support full acceptance of
Even before this week's Canadian meeting, the world Anglican Communion was already in an uproar over the U.S. Episcopal Church's 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of
The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the
Separately, the Anglican Church of Canada came under fire in 2002, after Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster in