Thinking Anglicans

Canada: developments on blessings

Updated Sunday evening

Same-sex blessings are in the news again in Canada.

Ottawa
The Anglican Journal reports that Ottawa diocese appoints committee to consider ‘blessings’ and there is material in the March issue of Crosstalk in a PDF file. See cover story and then on page 2, Bishop John Chapman has written a column. The Journal reports:

The bishop of the diocese of Ottawa, John Chapman, has appointed a doctrine and worship committee to determine whether same-sex unions can be blessed on a limited basis in the diocese.

If the committee recommends that such blessings be allowed “in the spirit of experiential discernment,” Bishop Chapman said it would only be offered in one parish, St. John the Evangelist, an inner city parish which has long advocated for the rights of gays and lesbians.

“In the event that I instruct the parish of St. John the Evangelist to proceed, this is as far as I am prepared to move on the matter until General Synod 2010,” he said in his March column at the diocesan newspaper, Crosstalk…

Update His March column can be read in full as a web page here.

The National Post reported this under the headline Anglican diocese will defy and bless but also reported that the diocese denied it was breaking a moratorium:

…In a press release issued on Monday night, the diocese said: “Just as the Church was not able to come to a clear mind regarding the benefits of the ordination of women to the priesthood until it experienced the priestly ministry of women, Bishop [John H.] Chapman has taken the process of discernment with regards to same sex blessings to a place beyond discussion.”

and this was confirmed by a spokesman for the Anglican Church of Canada who said:

…what the Diocese of Ottawa is doing is not a breaking the ban but rather a continuation of their “discernment process.”

Niagara
The same Anglican Journal report goes on to cover a related development in the diocese of Niagara. Bishop Michael Bird reports here on his recent visit to Lambeth Palace. Here’s an extract:

…In that interview I reviewed with him the multitude of task forces, hearings, Bishop’s statements, regional and parish meetings and the long list of Diocesan and General Synods that have discussed and wrestled with this issue since 1976. I gave him a full account of our dealings with dissenting parishes and the court proceedings we have been involved in. I shared with Archbishop Rowan our experience of the incredible contribution that gay and lesbian people have made and continue to make in every aspect of our Church’s life and witness, and expressed the overwhelming desire on the part of two Synod’s to move forward with the blessing of committed same-sex relationships for couples who have been civilly married. I also indicated to him my intentions with regard to my giving permission for these blessings to begin to take place.

One of the most powerful moments in the course of my fifty minute meeting with the Archbishop was the opportunity to describe the process of how our new Vision has emerged and how we believe that God is calling us as a Diocesan family to enhance and develop our work together under the five key areas of focus that are outlined in the Vision. In fact I indicated that it was my sense that the challenge the Vision offers us around the work of prophetic justice-making has made us even more determined to become a more open and inclusive Church.

Archbishop Williams listened carefully to my presentation and there was no doubt that I had his full attention. He thanked me for such a full and detailed report and he indicated how important this opportunity was for him to hear from me personally. We went on to have a very helpful and frank conversation about the implications involved and I expressed my own personal commitment and the strong desire of the Diocese of Niagara to remain in communication and dialogue with our sister and brother Anglicans around the world. I made it clear that we very much value and hold dear our membership in the Anglican Communion and we are grateful for his leadership and ministry…

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Rev L RobertsNom de PlumefordelmsRobert Ian WilliamsGeoff McLarney Recent comment authors
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JCF
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JCF

Tea-leaf readers, what do we make of Bishop Bird’s report? (“a very helpful and frank conversation about the implications involved” made me {gulp} . . . but perhaps I’m being paranoid?)

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

A dangerous innovation ?

‘Limited basis blessing’ is certainly innovative — you gotta hand it to them !

Meanwhile the body politic has leapt ahaead and is marrying everyone who is in love and commiting …

Marshall Scott
Guest

Per Bishop Bird of Niagara: “Archbishop Williams listened carefully to my presentation and there was no doubt that I had his full attention.”

Well, it’s good to know that someone from this side of the Atlantic can get Canterbury’s full attention….

Tim
Guest

not a breaking the ban but rather a continuation of their “discernment process.”

Methinks that rather a tortuous way to look at it, or at least some people might reasonably say so.

Admittedly, I think any such ban on same-sex blessings is immoral, so we’re into double-negative territory already.

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

And just how can you break a ban when there is no ban?

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

One of ther real paradoxes here – about the prospect of same-sex blessings, is that, in the present climate, it may well be that the couples involved may be subjected to a more thorough discernment process than many heterosexual partners contemplating a life-long relationship in their celebration of a Church wedding – the same-sex couples no doubt having to go through more hurdles than the traditional ones. The courtesy with which the ABC has really *listened* to Bishop Michael Bird is patently more respectful than that of some of the other Primates who promised to facilitate a ‘Listening Process’ at… Read more »

peterpi
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peterpi

To add to Nom de Plume’s post of 10:45 GMT,
… or when the ban can’t really be enforced? Or when there really may be no authority to issue such a ban? Or to say that to break that particular ban will cause the End of Western Civilization, but to wink at, mock, repudiate, ridicule, and ignore the ban on diocesan poaching — oh, I’m so sorry, “cross-border intervention” — is perfectly OK?

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

And this was a Church that refused re-marriage to divorcees before 1962.

Andrew Innes
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Robert Ian Williams

And this was a Church that refused re-marriage to divorcees before 1962.

And your point is?

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

That the defectors from the Canadian Church have very short memories..when they talk about changes in sexual morality, as their reason for leaving.

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

RIW: That would be 1967, after 76 years of debate. Fr Smith: I don’t know what kind of scrutiny is proposed for same-sex couples. I would hope it would be as rigorous as that for heterosexual couples. You should read the Anglican Church of Canada’s Canon on Marriage in the Church. It is quite comprehensive, with only one obvious omission. But the point to look for is the requirement for comprehensive preparation of the couple for marriage, including a Schedule containing a list of 10 points that are required to be covered in that preparation. Norman Doe has called this… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Andrew, I too have found R.I.W.’s contributions to the debate on this site confusing. On the one hand – his seeming acceptance of the need for Anglican reform on issues of sexuality, on the other – his more rigorous attitude towards divorce, per his new R.C. affilitation.

Nom de Plume, I too hope that the preparation of same-sex couples for marriage blessings would be in keeping with the solemnity of their potential relationship; but not more rigorous than that proposed for heterosexual couple for marriage. This was point I was trying to make earlier.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Nevertheless it is a change in teaching….so where have the Canadian conservatives been for 42 years. Despite what Nom de Plume says the Canadian Anglican Church is a divorce mill.

John Thorp
Guest

Bravo Bishop John! ‘Experiential discernment’ is the perfect way to reconcile irreconcilables. It allows advance on the divisive matter of blessing same sex marriages, and it does so in a way that has the endorsement of Scripture. The story of Rabbi Gamaliel in Acts 5 gives precisely the recipe for experiential discernment in a case of deep disagreement among religious voices: give the innovation a try — “if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them [sc. the apostles] — in that… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

John Thorp, I appreciate your point. However, that is a point on which conservatives have already opined and taken exception. It was suggested in the American and Canadian responses to the last meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council that Gamaliel’s suggestion be followed. My thought at the time was for North America to be sort of the Communion’s “Research and Development” arm, which would work well with the idea of “experimental discernment.” Unfortunately, the thought then was met with rejection and derision; and I expect it will be again.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“And this was a Church that refused re-marriage to divorcees before 1962.”

Around the time that the Chruch you left Anglicanism to join started worshipping in the local tongue, and even then it required a Papal fiat that to this day is causing dissent! A Church that doesn’t listen to its laity, and can’t seem to learn from at least two rather public and humiliating failures at handling priestly sexual abuse. Beams and motes, RIW, beams and motes.

Peterpi
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Peterpi

John Thorp, thank you for your mention of Rabbi Gamliel’s quote in Acts 5. It’s one of my favorite verses. Rabbi Gamliel is a very famous rabbi of that era. Although, to be honest, I somehow thought that quote was uttered by Nicodemus during the Gospels’ account of Jesus’ trial.
As far as “experimental discernment”, it is nice to see the US and Canadian provinces doing a lot more for “discernment” than most African provinces are doing for the “listening process”.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The blessings innate to all of this probably involve consistency. Canada for a number of reasons has been able to proceed in a more widely consultative and orderly fashion in its SSBs than USA. Having federal civil marriage equality no doubt helped that along, significantly; since to some extent outside church life, there was consistency in law and applications. USA has no such consistency, as the federal is balanced with state rights, and all are varied from outright constitutional bans on marriage equality, to state law bans, to various types of state bans plus state domestic partnerships, to no bans,… Read more »

Reverend Ref
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Fr Smith: I don’t know what kind of scrutiny is proposed for same-sex couples. I would hope it would be as rigorous as that for heterosexual couples. Personally, I meet with engaged couples no less than six times in which we cover a variety of topics relating to marriage. I happen to serve in a diocese that does not allow SSB’s at this time, and while that prevents me from officiating any marriages/unions/commitment ceremonies (or whatever we’re calling them), it does not prevent me from offering the same pre-marital prep to homosexual couples as I offer to heterosexual couples. As… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“As of yet, however, that offer has not been accepted.” – Reverend Ref. –

Yet, it’s good to know that you are ready and able, once called to do so for SameSex Blessings when they are approved. In the meantime, R.R., it is probable that you, like me, would offer care and advice to all gay couples who want to try to integrate their relationship in ways that are in accord with the Great Commandment of Christ – to Love, contained in the Gospel.

Geoff McLarney
Guest
Geoff McLarney

St John the Evangelist? O pray for gay and lesbian Anglican couples in Ottawa with good taste in liturgy.

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

RIW: “the Canadian Anglican Church is a divorce mill.” Wrong. The Canadian Anglican Church (known to some as the Anglican Church of Canada) makes no provision for the granting of divorces. It does make provision for the granting of annulments, and has done for 63 years, but these are very rarely requested, if ever. The Anglican Church of Canada also makes pastoral provision for the granting of dispensation from the impediment of prior bond, with a rigorous process for making the application, to allow divorced persons to remarry within the Church where pastorally appropriate. Now, if you want to talk… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I take your point Nom de plume about the abuse of annulments in the N American churches, (which has caused concern to the Vatican). just as with clerical immorality etc. it does not disprove the validity of any Church doctrine. However the Church of England and in Canada had a very high standard as regards marriage, and that seems to have gone over night. We live with in memory of a King-Emperor being forced to abdicate, It should be noted that it was evanagelicals like George Carey who promoted divorce and re-marriage. The very Evangelicals now ringing their hands about… Read more »

fordelms
Guest
fordelms

“Hence the reason why I harp on.” You harp on for the same reason I harp on, to point out hypocrisy, at least such hypocrisy as our blinkers allow us to see. The things is, you left Anglicanism for Rome. This does not disqualify you from commenting, of course, though it does give you an air of smug judgemental superiority, not to mention the way your ignoring of the many faults of Rome makes you look. So, you indeed have a right to comment. But, given the way such comment makes you look, the question is, do you want to?… Read more »

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

Yes, strange that Carey and his Evangelical friends can see their way to dealing with reality with respect to remarriage after divorce, but not with respect to same-sex marriage. As regards the Canadian acceptance of remarriage in the Church, you should note that the debate started officially in 1889, beginning with modest proposals that at least the “innocent party” should be permitted to remarry rather than having to choose between faith and enforced celibacy or remarriage and excommunication. Doubtless many chose the latter and simply switched ecclesiastical affiliation. One of the leading clergy of the day argued that forcing “innocent”… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Nom de Plume I think archbishop Carey had personal reasons for his change of position. All these have to be personal in the final analysis –not just theories and stats. I regret that Carey couldnt carry his own experience of facing the divorce of others and its pain could not inform his attitude to other loving relationships.