Thinking Anglicans

Canadian bishops plan to discuss marriage canon

The Anglican Church of Canada’s report on changing the Canadian marriage canon was published in September, see earlier article.

The Anglican Journal reports: Bishops plan February meeting to discuss marriage canon.

At their autumn meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont., members of the House of Bishops agreed to convene a special meeting from February 23-26 to discuss the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon.

In a communiqué released October 26, the bishops said this meeting would “pay particular attention to the theology of marriage, the nature of episcopacy, and the synod’s legislative process” and “wrestle with how to honour our roles as guardians of the Church’s faith and discipline and signs of unity both locally and universally.”

The question of legislative process—how General Synod 2016 will approach the divisive vote on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage—has raised some anxiety among bishops, and was brought up in the communiqué.

“We are concerned that parliamentary procedure may not be the most helpful way to discern the mind of the Church, or of the Spirit, in this matter,” it stated. “We would ask those in charge of designing the process whereby the draft resolution comes to the floor…to consider ways in which trust and understanding can be deepened and promoted…”

The full text of the communiqué is available here: Communiqué from the House of Bishops.

There was also this report from ACNS “Deep pain” anticipated as Canada prepares to debate same sex marriage.

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The Communiqué articulates the Canadian House of Bishops apprehension over whether or not parliamentary procedure at synod is the best way of discerning the Spirit. They express, as well, an interest in building trust around a controversial issue. This brings forward the important distinction in the Canadian church between episcopal leadership and synodical governance. The bishops may well wish to provide leadership; but they ought to do so within the governance structure of which they are one part. General Synod initiated this process by way of resolution. The House of Bishops might take care that they not react to events… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

previous post, final paragraph, first sentence, ought to read ” … there is a range of opinions”.

cseitz
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cseitz

Or ultra-liberal to conservative? Funny how there is always a thumb on the scale…

James Byron
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James Byron

Let’s just drop this “fruits of the Spirit” line and own the decision.

Either the Holy Spirit is wicked schizophrenic; we’re suddenly perfectly attuned to its will; or, hey, these are human decisions, made because, as our knowledge and understanding increased, we’ve changed our minds.

Stop putting it on God and the Spirit: it’s on us.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ csetiz, “Or ultra-liberal to conservative? Funny how there is always a thumb on the scale…” I can live with your calibration as well as mine. A political spectrum, as we have in the Canadian church, is always somewhat relative and elastic. However, I think a couple of Canadian bishops out of, what is it forty some odd (?), partying with GAFCON could reasonably be considered ultra-conservative by local standards. And since we are into idioms, here is another. If the shoe fits…. @ James Byron, “Stop putting it on God and the Spirit: it’s on us.” Not sure I… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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As part of the Anglican Church (ACANZP) that first invited the Faithful Laity to participate in Synods, may I point out the fact that Pope Francis, in the Roman Catholic Church seems to be moving towards that possibility for himself. This, surely is the very best way of accessing the ‘mind of the Church’, that resides not only in the episcopal or clerical capacity for the invocation of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, on matters of concern to all humanity? This may be why the Anglican Church of Canada has had the courage to look more deeply into the mystery of… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Well, this will give the Primates something to talk about at their January meeting in Canterbury! As well as taking Minutes of what is said at the meeting in the new year, could someone also be assigned to take Minutes of the Body Language of the Primates as the discussions get under way?

Geoff
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Geoff

I am less and less comfortable with importing the language of the political spectrum into the church. If “liberal” and “conservative” have a useful theological meaning, it is within the context of 19th C. German Biblical criticism and the 20th C. “fundamentalist-modernist” controversy, neither of which has any direct bearing on the present question. (Despite the stereotypes, I have met few Anglicans who support SSM on “secular” human rights grounds, or reject it because of Leviticus). To echo Bishop Whalon’s excellent essay on AO, virtually all opponents and supporters of marriage equality I know would be considered “conservative”, “liberals” having… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

I wasn’t proposing or endorsing labels, but only pointing out the “liberal to ultra-conservative” language being used by the original commentator.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Geoff, “[importing]the language of the political spectrum into the church.” I take your point. However, just as one may speak of right to left secular economic politics, or right or left Hegelians, one may speak of a right to left spectrum on social issues. For example, on the issue of same sex marriage, I’m a liberal. I do, in fact, see it as primarily a human rights issue; but I’m also a theological liberal because I do not think that the literal interpretation of specific scriptural texts offers any insight with regard to a contemporary understanding of human sexual… Read more »

Geoff
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Geoff

I’m not so sure one can speak of a “left-right spectrum on social issues.” Left and right conventionally refer to the economic “axis” of politics. In fact, I’m not even confident that there is a particular category of “social issues” that can be separated out from other theological questions. I don’t know that recognizing that we can’t derive bespoke answers from scripture about a phenomenon not identified until some 1900 years after it was written makes one a “theological liberal” (which is not to say you aren’t one). I’m not denying that theological liberals exist, or that they are likely… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Geoff, re right-left, political axis etc, I don’t disagree, or want to expend a lot of energy disagreeing, with the global sense of what you say. I’m happy to let sociologists and politcal scientists slug it out as to whether one person’s theoretical doctrine is another person’s house of cards. On my more generous days, I would say perhaps that assigning a label to one’s self is more legitimate than assigning it to someone else. Besides, The origin of the right-left continuum has its origins as a metaphor derived from a seating plan. However, that does not obviate the… Read more »

Geoff
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Geoff

“However, that does not obviate the fact that voices that advocate social reform in support the sexual revolution contrast with voices that advocate the conservation of socially constructed roles, however rationalized.” That’s probably fair; it’s just important to recognize that not all SSM advocates “support the sexual revolution.” On the contrary, those truly committed to advancing the latter tend to look askance at marriage as an attempt to assimilate GLB people while deprecating queer relationships which do not conform to heterosexual-style marital models. This is the radical “pansexual” school of thought of which David Virtue often complains: it does exist… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Geoff, “On the contrary, those truly committed to advancing the latter tend to look askance at marriage as an attempt to assimilate GLB people while deprecating queer relationships which do not conform to heterosexual-style marital models.” Sure thing; but keep in mind that revolutions almost always encompass a spectrum. Instance, just for example, the tension between focus and diversity in the Maquis of WWII France. Besides, are not monastics or hermits or anchorites or parochial celibates , each with a focus on sexuality, revolutionary alternatives to marriage? No matter that practitioners of faith may view the church theologically, churches… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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The earliest concepts of marriage were based on the disposition of property rights and procreation.

Many Church-sanctioned heterosexual marriages today are based on other goods – including faithfulness, companionship and co-habitation without the need or capability to procreate or secure property. This is a new function of heterosexual marriage; not unlike the prospect of same-sex marriage, surely?