A South American Anglican archbishop who opposes homosexuality met hundreds of breakaway Canadian church members over the weekend, defying a warning from Canada's top Anglican to stay away. Greg Venables, the British-born head of the 30,000 Anglicans in South America, claims to represent disgruntled members of the faith who have left the Anglican Church of Canada largely over the issue of same-sex blessings in the church. Archbishop Venables said accepting the 2,000-strong Anglican Network of Canada - made up of 15 breakaway congregations - under his jurisdiction gave them a 'holding place' while the church struggled over the issue. 'This is a group of people who are grateful there is a place for them to go,' he said. 'They say they needed to leave the church and we are temporarily giving them shelter.' The issue of approving same-sex marriages has been divided largely along what Archbishop Venables considers geographical lines. The Anglican church in Canada and the US are pushing for same-sex marriage blessings and had been able to dominate the issue, he said. But Anglicans in Asia, South America and Africa had been unable to get their opposition recognised because of the influence of English-speaking Anglicans from the west. Archbishop Venables' arrival in Canada generated controversy within the church. 'Your visit at this time will further harm the strained relations between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Network in Canada,' wrote Archbishop Fred Hiltz in a letter posted on the church's website. The church requested Archbishop Venables not meet the former members. Ann Varcoe, whose congregation has broken away, travelled to Delta, Vancouver, for the three-day conference with Archbishop Venables. 'We are being validated here. In some other parishes, we are seen as troublemakers,' Ms Varcoe said. 'We now belong somewhere.' In 2002, Vancouver-area Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham became the first in Canada to approve the blessing of same-sex relationships. Bishop Don Harvey of Newfoundland, who left the church in Canada for the South American jurisdiction, said he and others still considered themselves Anglicans. 'We are not with the Anglican Church of Canada but part of the Anglican Church of the world.'