The Anglican Church of Canada’s highest governing body, the General Synod, approved a resolution denouncing euthanasia and assisted suicide during its meeting in Montreal May 21-29. The resolution described such measures as “a failure of human community.”

The Synod also called on Ottawa to maintain the current moratorium on human cloning and ensure that international trade agreements do not facilitate the practice.

The General Synod meets every three years. Every 10 years, Anglican bishops from around the world gather at the Lambeth Conference, which is being held this year July 18-August 9.

The majority of bishops in the Anglican Communion now come from non-Western countries and are generally more theologically conservative, especially in matters of Christian sexual ethics. Many bishops in the American Episcopal Church, however, are more liberal in their approach to sexual ethics. It is expected that Lambeth will endorse sexual ethics similar to those affirmed by the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Anglican Church of Canada still affirms that the proper place for sexual relations is within marriage between a man and a woman. The General Synod passed a resolution commending the House of Bishops for their 1997 guidelines on homosexuality. These guidelines rejected the ordination of sexually active homosexuals, and the blessing of same-sex “marital” relationships. The most controversial matter at the Synod was a document called A covenant of protection: Human rights principles. It set forth guidelines for developing hiring and firing policies for non-ordained church employees. The bishops rejected it; but had it passed, it would have been impossible to object to the hiring of non-ordained church workers who live common-law or in homosexual relationships.

A second set of guidelines was brought forward, which also departed from current church canons regarding marital status and “sexual orientation.” It was defeated by all three houses—laity, clergy and bishops.