Thinking Anglicans

IASCUFO gives advice to Canadians on marriage policy change

The Anglican Journal reports that an Anglican Communion body urges church not to change marriage policy.

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) has urged the Anglican Church of Canada not to amend its marriage canon (church law) to allow the marriage of same-sex couples, saying such a move would “cause great distress for the Communion as a whole, and for its ecumenical relationships.”

The IASCUFO’s statement came in response to a request from the Canadian church’s Commission on the Marriage Canon for an opinion about proposed changes to Canon 21 that would allow for same-sex marriages. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, decided IASCUFO would be the “most appropriate” body within the Communion to deal with such a question.

The Anglican Church of Canada has the prerogative “to address issues appropriate to its context,” the IASCUFO said, but it noted the ramifications of “a change of this magnitude” for the Communion and its ecumenical partners. In a letter addressed to Canon Robert Falby, chair of the marriage canon commission, IASCUFO members said they were unanimous “in urging you not to move beyond your present policy of ‘local option,’ ” which allows dioceses to choose whether or not they will offer same-sex blessings. They noted that the absence of a General Synod decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or same-sex marriages “has given space for the rebuilding of fragile relationships across the Communion.”

If the 2016 General Synod decides to approve a motion to change the marriage canon, the Anglican Church of Canada will become the first province in the Anglican Communion to allow same-sex marriage. The Episcopal Church, which in 2012 authorized “for trial use” a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships, has no provision for same-sex marriage…

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“Advice” indeed. Sounds more like an offer we can’t refuse, from the fairly newly minted International Standing Commission. I see they referred favorably to the Anglican Covenant. Anyone interested in the state of the question in the Canadian Church can find it via the link below. At the bottom of the page in the link is the text of the actual motion passed by General Synod together with the terms of reference of The Commission doing the work. The divide on the issue is along the usual lines. The Canadian House of Bishops appears very anxious over the issue. The… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“The IASCUFO’s statement came in response to a request from the Canadian church’s Commission on the Marriage Canon for an opinion”

Well then. “Thank you for your opinion; it is so noted” (I would advise the AngChCanada to reply). “Nevertheless, we have decided to follow Christ’s Good News, instead. Ergo—obviously—Marriage Equality.”

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“The Episcopal Church, which in 2012 authorized “for trial use” a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships, has no provision for same-sex marriage…” This is not accurate. Resolution A049 from our 2012 General Convention had a clause allowing bishops “generous pastoral oversight.” This was widely accepted at the time as being a provision for same sex marriage. Indeed, that clause has widely been used by bishops in many of the “blue states” to authorize marriage for same sex couples. We are already marrying people, folks. My partner and I are getting married in our Episcopal parish in January. The rite is… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

So no discussion as to whether this us the right thing to do, just an appeal, yet again, not to upset the homophobes.

Jo
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Jo

It seems to me that the distress of those unable to marry the person they love should override the distress felt by those who fear that someone, somewhere, might be being made happy in a way they disapprove of.

John
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John

Congrats, Cynthia. I’m 100% in favour of this (though, in my way, supportive of those for whom it is a bridge too far).

cseitz
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cseitz

TEC has no same-sex marriage rite. GC 2012 did not approve such a move. Seeing it did not have the votes to approve a Trial rite, the HOB invented a ‘provisional rite’ concept and left discretion to individual Bishops.

But all that will likely change at GC 2015.

The matter in ACoC is by no means so clear, for a range of reasons. Some ‘progressive’ Bishops accept same-sex blessings but not marriage. Indigenous Bishops are a sizeable number and they are conservative on this issue.

Tobias Haller
Guest

As I’ve observed before, if people adopted the ethic that underlies this thinking, they would never do anything to which anyone else took offense. Mary obviously should have refused God’s offer to scandalize the neighborhood and the world through his Incarnate Son. Then we wouldn’t need to be having this conversation.

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

Cynthia, ref your comment (about the new Canadian Liturgy) ” The rite is called The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant. It is a beautiful liturgy, and importantly, straight couples are being encouraged also to use it. It is devoid of some medievalisms that remain in the Book of Common Prayer. It includes the Eucharist, it really is sacramental.” That mirrors our experience back in the UK. A number of our straight friends expressed jealousy of our ability to have a church liturgy which reflected a partnership of equals, rather than the marriage liturgy they were forced to have,… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

“they will likely change the canons at the national level”. The BCP is a constitutional document. Two GCs are required for changing it. The language ‘trial rite’ was adopted for the 70s run-up to the 1979 BCP, during which time dioceses were to make available green book, zebra book, etc. (If you were a 1928 PB parish, you left in disagreement, negotiated a settlement, etc). That is, ‘trial rite’ was not a sub-section of an operative BCP like a ‘marriage rite’ though one can well imagine people will forget all that and use the language of ‘trial rite’ to fir… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The membership of IASCUFO is provided at the end of their December 2014 communiqué, found here.

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2014/12/10/inter-anglican-standing-commission-on-unity-faith-and-order-2/

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

Cynthia,

Every Blessing on your forthcoming marriage.
Thank you for telling us what really happening in your beloved church.
If only other provinces in the Anglican Communion, especially those of the United Kingdom would follow your province in living out the gospel.
Jo your comment is true, and it is about time the ABC took notice.

Every Blessing this Christmastide to every one.

Fr John and Robert

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Congratulations and blessings to you and your fiancee, Cynthia

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Cynthia,
I’m so happy for your and your future wife! We converted our civil partnership to marriage last week and that was a deeply moving moment. I wish we had been able to do that in church. I hope you will have the most wonderful day. For us, I hope we will one day be able to renew our vows in church.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Although the full revision of the BCP requires two sessions of General Convention, authorizations for the “trial use” of suggested changes either of the whole book _or a section of it_ (such as the marriage rite) only requires one session of GC. Here is the relevant portion of the text of the Constitution, Article X: The General Convention may “Authorize for trial use throughout this Church, as an alternative at any time or times to the established Book of Common Prayer or to any section or Office thereof, a proposed revision of the whole Book or of any portion thereof,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Cynthia, Congrats! Re “I don’t know who IASCUFO is, perhaps they’ve given up on TEC.” I had forgotten all about this group’s set up until the statement nabout the Canadian situation was released yesterday. There is an Episcopal priest listed as one of the members of the group. (and a member from the C of E). One of the corespondents at Episcopal Café indicated that the Episcopal Church rep does not necessarily represent the majority opinion of The episcopal Church, which prompted me to wonder who makes the appointments and to what extent, if any, are appointees representative of… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

Haller is exactly right. A ‘Trial Rite’ (for a sub section of the BCP; a novelty) is effectively a first reading en route to a constitutional change, viz, a BCP rite for use throughout the church. Doubtless there will be some disagreement over whether a Trial Rite is accessible over an individual Bishop’s wishes in the next season post GC 2015. That will be another step into grey area-arama. The ACoC will of course chart its own path.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Thank you all for the best wishes upon our marriage! One awesome element about all the marriages going on in the 32 or so states that recently got legal equal marriage, is that it shows progress in human rights and human inclusion. Given the explosion of racism revealed by Ferguson and the lack of indictments of officers who abused their power, it is good to celebrate progress where it exists. So we will have a very big party!!!! But we will remember that the work of liberation and bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth is ongoing. For those who… Read more »

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

Cynthia pointed out one mistake in the article, but there is a second mistake, and a very big one. “If the 2016 General Synod decides to approve a motion to change the marriage canon, the Anglican Church of Canada will become the first province in the Anglican Communion to allow same-sex marriage.” Not so, because, just as in TEC, an amendment to a canon dealing with doctrine, worship or discipline requires the affirmative vote of two sessions of General Synod, with a referral to diocesan and provincial synods in between. Thus the earliest the ACofC could allow same-sex marriages is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ cseitz, “The matter in ACoC is by no means so clear, for a range of reasons. Some ‘progressive’ Bishops accept same-sex blessings but not marriage. Indigenous Bishops are a sizeable number and they are conservative on this issue.” Good observation. The Communion is trying to find its way in a post-colonial situation. It is interesting to look down the lists of Communion bishops in the successive Lambeth conferences over the past century. With each successive Lambeth the number of expatriate western bishops in Africa and Asia has declined in favor of indigenous bishops. This positive development has consequences. There… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

{{{Cynthia & Beloved Fiancee’}}}

Cynthia, just want to say that MOST of your comments move me. The above “…most of all, LOVE!” just makes my Grinch-heart explode “3 sizes” today. <3

Mazel Tov, also, to Erica and ***married spouse***. 😀

To cseitz, w your “once you let individuals do whatever is right in their own eyes, well that is what happens”, I just want to preach the words of Our Lord—

‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance … But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” (Matt 11: 17,19)

cseitz
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cseitz

How silly — ‘and we played a dirge and you did not mourn.’ I see you left that bit out.

IT
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IT

Regardless of what it is called, the lovely liturgy in TEC is being used for actual marriages between same sex couples in states where marriage is legal (and the bishop approves). For those of us who married civilly before the church caught up, that marriage can be blessed. And the sun still rises each day in the east, and all is well. In our diocese, the bishop draws no distinction between same- and opposite-sex couples, requiring the same preparation and qualifications from each for marriage. He also notes, ” while the overwhelming majority of the people of our diocese now… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

“Rest assured no clergy person will ever be compelled to perform any marriage that the cleric feels is not appropriate, for any reason.” But this isn’t the way this will play out. If individual Bishops are constrained by a BCP rite (or a Trial rite; grey area post GC 2015), couples will press for whatever GC has given license to. It will then become a class action matter. Clergy who do not believe they can bless same-sex marriage will be isolated and will in time be out. No aspirant for orders will be moved forward without compliance with the new… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

“In our diocese, the bishop draws no distinction between same- and opposite-sex couples, requiring the same preparation and qualifications from each for marriage.”

But the point is that this is not anything like uniform practice anywhere else. ‘Liberal’ Bishops in ACoC do not believe in same-sex marriage. Equally, Church of England. And as we see, IASCUFO as well.

This was my original point.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Cynthia wonders who are IASCUFO.

This committee succeeded the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations and with its Faith and Order brief proposed a new check to potential unwelcome developments within a Communion governed by the principles of The Covenant.
With the Covenant in limbo one had begun to wonder if this group would resurface.
There were quite a few who were deeply concerned at its creation, bearing in mind how powerful a tool its chief architect, Paul Avis, had made the same committee within the CofE.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“But the point is that this is not anything like uniform practice anywhere else.” I think the real point is that TEC has deeper formation on theological issues surrounding justice. Slavery, Civil Rights, Martin Luther King, women’s equality, and LGBTQ inclusion all had opponents whose opposition was based in “tradition.” Not to mention shameful episodes of antisemitism, burning witches and whatnot. On top of that, it seems that US scholars at top US universities have taken the lead in studies about culture, history, and language that deeply inform us of a very Radical Jesus. In the face of all of… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

This CBC TV interview ought to be mandatory viewing at the next IASCUFO meeting. Hopefully it’s accessible from your viewing area. Its about twelve minutes in length. T.I.F.F. film premier, ‘Stories of Our Lives” Being Gay in Kenya.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/The%20National/About%20the%20Show/Wendy%20Mesley/ID/2508752523/

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Clergy who do not believe they can bless same-sex marriage will be isolated and will in time be out. No aspirant for orders will be moved forward without compliance with the new teaching and practice.” I think this will not play out very quickly. It will work itself out more at the parish level, where liberal parishes certainly will not call a “non marrying” priest, but conservative parishes will. However, a recent study released by TEC shows that parishes that are growing are, in order of rate of growth: very liberal, liberal, and moderately liberal parishes. Conservative parishes are shrinking.… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

It might be of interest to read the wide ranging brief given to this body way back when. Interestingly the ACO is operating on the understanding that the Covenant is very much present and effective within those churches who have adopted it, albeit they are few and their accesion often came with a variety of caveats. For them this is a process only temporarily abated ……. IASCUFO 2009.01.05 Mandate of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order The Standing Commission shall have responsibility: • to promote the deepening of Communion between the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Cythia (1:11 am) Re First Nations in Canada, this article from Canada’s Anglican Journal may be of some help in answering your question. It’s a generalization that this issue is perceived very differently by Anglican First Nations, and that at least some of their bishops are conservative on the issue. The current National First Nations Bishop in Canada, Mark MacDonald, is a former bishop of TEC, but I have no idea what his views are on this. Interested in your comment. I don’t know enough about the Native Americans in TEC to comment. I’d certainly be interested in hearing… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

“However, a recent study released by TEC shows that parishes that are growing are, in order of rate of growth: very liberal, liberal, and moderately liberal parishes. Conservative parishes are shrinking.”

How very odd. Average TEC parish size: 67. Average age: mid-fifties. 40% of TEC dioceses with lower than 3000 ASA. All NE Provinces in sharp decline. Conservative dioceses (SC, Dallas, TN, CFL) doing well.

Geoff
Guest

“Odd that Canada’s indigenous people would be “conservative” on LGBTQ issues while the Native Americans in the US call us the “two spirit” people and hold us in high regard. What would account for that? Or is it even true?” I’m not sure it’s fair to say that “Canada’s indigenous people” are conservative about it. Within First Nations at large there is certainly a variety of views, and as you note the Two Spirit community has been increasingly visible. (There was an excellent feature piece on their plight as a double-minority in one of the Vancouver papers recently). First Nations… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Can we have these constant arguments about TEC taken elsewhere, please?

John Holding
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John Holding

Further to Cynthia — First Nations in Canada cannot be spoken of as a single entity, and I’m surprised that you speak of First Nations in the US as if they have a common and universal approach on anything. My understanding of the “two-spirited” thing is that it is primarily Navaho in origin, not anything like a universal concept or belief. Certainly in Canada, when you look at the Inuit — who are vastly different from other First Nations — their Christianity comes almost entirely from late 19th century evangelical and RC sources. Whatever the pre-Christian beliefs many have been,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re, more on Canada’s First Nations Groups and the same -sex marriage discussion. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about First Nations’ areas here ( The First Nations where I live are R.C.), but just by co-incidence I have just had opportunity to chat with someone here who has long standing and in depth connection. The word is that there is some diversity of opinion on this issue across First Nations groups in Canada, but there are certainly some groups for whom same sex marriage is both theologically and culturally not on. There would be a similar perspective on divorce as well.… Read more »

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

Cynthia, I short answer to your question, the First Nations are generally conservative on this point, because of the colonial legacy. A remark by Archdeacon Larry Beardy during the sexuality debates at General Synod in 2004 has stuck with me: “The white man told us homosexuality was wrong, now the white man tells us it is ok. Who are we supposed to believe?” (not his exact words, but my recollection) Another factor is an evangelical heritage in much of the North, CMS and Church Army. The present Bishop and Suffragan of the Arctic are a former Church Army evangelist from… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

Speak to Cynthia. As you properly note, this thread was supposed to be about IASCUFO and Canada. But for her, TEC exceptionalism is the only thing of note.

cseitz
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cseitz

I believe you are correct in your appraisal (5.41pm). Bishop MacDonald is a good friend and his family worships at the parish where I work in Toronto.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Sorry to counter your doom and gloom, cseitz, but the data show a certain robustness amongst TEC’s liberal parishes, even posting growth in a time of decline for all denominations (and denomination wide). Here’s the link for the study from 2008-2013: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/sites/default/files/downloads/episcopal_congregations_overview_2014.pdf “Congregations that are “very liberal” were most likely to have grown in worship attendance (34%) followed by congregations that are “moderate” (22%) or “somewhat liberal or progressive” (22%). Conservative Episcopal congregations were more likely to have experienced decline from 2008 to 2013 (57%).” There’s a ton of data that was recently released. Of course, TEC is suffering declines… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

Sorry Fr. Reynolds. I tried.

When 8% (‘very liberal’) of a small denomination is experiencing growth, that translates into not very much at all in aggregate.

The conservative Church of the Incarnation in Dallas’s growth or St Martin’s in Houston alone offsets it!

And as for conservative decline: of course, since ACNA is larger by a sizeable amount than the ‘very liberal’ block inside TEC, and they all left. And of course the Episcopal Diocese of SC alone left with 30K.

The leadership of TEC itself accepts they have a crisis!

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“But for her, TEC exceptionalism is the only thing of note.” The article incorrectly said that Canada was poised to be first in same sex marriage. It isn’t inappropriate to make the correction. And given that marriage equality is coming state-by-state in the US, it is a more complex situation than Canada’s national governing body making the change for all of Canada. However, TEC is quite exceptional in having taken the lead on recognizing all people as created in the Image of God. It is indeed a breakthrough for humanity, as every step towards love and liberation brings us closer… Read more »

Alan T Perry
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Alan T Perry

Returning to the original point of this article, I would point out three things: 1) The reference to the (proposed) Anglican Covenant is interesting given that, of the 12 Provinces represented by those present at the meeting, only 1 has actually adopted the Covenant. 3 have definitively rejected it, another 3 are on the fence, and the status of the Daft Covenant is unclear in the other 5. Canada has not adopted it, and thus is not subject to any of its provisions. 2) The communique refers to a “policy (sic) of local option”. There is no policy. What we… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Thank you Alan for bringing the discussion back to the original topic. I would be glad if we could now keep this thread firmly on the Canadian matter, or on the role of IASCUFO.

And if you could explain to us where exactly the internal Canadian discussion on this matter has got to, that would be very helpful. I am quite unclear as to whether any specific proposal has yet emerged.

cseitz
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cseitz

The Anglican Journal has a new article on +Hiltz at Lambeth. I know that a statutory conscience clause was being sought, for those who hold the traditional view on marriage, in which this view was affirmed as the teaching of the church. Some ‘progressive’ bishops have said they could only affirm same-sex blessing but that marriage refers to a different state of affairs. So I suspect these circumstances will inform the Canadian Synod discussion. The First Nation Anglican reality is a third major factor.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Simon Sarmiento, the first two sentences of Alan Perry’s summarizes the state of the question to date. The Primate’s Theological Commission On The Marriage Commission will have to draft a motion for the next General Synod in 2016 for first reading. If the draft motion were to pass in some form after debate on the floor, then it would come back to a second General Synod three years later for final reading. The motion is below in full. The matter is still at items (a-d) as found in the motion which included petitioning IASCUFO. The motion itself is not… Read more »

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

Simon,

A very simple answer: the committee is charged with bringing forth a proposal to General Synod in 2016. So far, no specific proposal has emerged, and none is expected until late 2015 at the earliest.

Alan T Perry
Guest
Alan T Perry

Here’s the current status of things: Marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada is governed by a canon of the General Synod, Canon XXI. Only the General Synod has authority to amend this canon (obviously) and amendments require approval by a 2/3 majority in each of the three orders (bishops, clergy, laity) at two successive meetings of the General Synod, which are normally at three-year intervals. (Hence references to 2016 and 2019 in the thread). It is understood that the canon does not permit solemnization of same-sex marriages. It follows that there can be no diocesan approval for same-sex weddings.… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“A side question is whether the Instruments of Commuinon and the various committees of the Communion are themselves subject to the proposed Anglican Covenant. Does the Rule of Law apply or not?” That’s an interesting question. The Covenant was voted down in the UK and other provinces. Why would it be in force in Canada? Did Canada vote for the Covenant? And of all the bureaucratic talk, is anyone in Canada talking about the theological issues of inclusion vs. exclusion? Is any one talking about the impact of exclusion language on vulnerable people, such as LGBT teens? Clearly, canons should… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Cynthia, “Did Canada vote for the Covenant?”

Nope. We are supposed to be in discernment mode until General Synod in 2016. See below archived story from Canada’s Anglican Journal on-line published in July 2013 at the end of the previous GS. In my part of the country, very little “conversation” taking place.

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/anglican-covenant-decision-in-2016