Religion news in brief

Vancouver, Canada - Despite pleas from many of the world's top Anglican leaders, Bishop Michael Ingham said that the blessing of same-sex unions continues within his New Westminster Diocese.

Ingham endorsed an April 27 statement from a meeting in Windsor, Ontario, where Canada's Anglican bishops unanimously committed themselves "neither to encourage nor to initiate the use of such rites" until a nationwide synod settles the issue. The next synod session is in 2007.

But as Ingham sees it, the bishops agreed to take "no further actions beyond those already started" and left his diocese free to continue its practice of same-sex blessings.

"No bishop was in any doubt that I did not commit myself to a moratorium on same-sex blessings," Ingham said.

A same-sex blessings moratorium was part of a unity plea from a February meeting of 35 top world Anglican leaders.

The same request was made of the Episcopal Church in the United States, where there's been similar confusion.

The U.S. bishops vowed in March that they would not authorize "public rites" to bless same-sex couples for at least a year, but that wording left open the possibility that individual priests and parishes could continue such services.

Like the U.S. bishops, the Canadian bishops expressed "regret" that other Anglicans are pained by their liberal steps on gay issues, but not regret for the actions themselves.

The New Westminster Diocese's synod will discuss the situation further on May 14. The meeting will be observed by Canada's Anglican leader, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison.