Thinking Anglicans

Canadian Bishops unable to agree to marriage canon change

The Canadian House of Bishops has issued this:

Statement from the House of Bishops from its Special Meeting. Here is an extract:

…We spent a considerable amount of time discussing the theology of marriage and our episcopal role and responsibilities as chief pastors, and as guardians of the Church’s faith, order and unity. We concentrated on the relationship of the bishop to the Church locally, nationally and with our Anglican Communion partners, and alongside and within synods. These conversations led into considerations about the nature of our relationships within the House in light of the deep differences we have on the matter of changing the Church’s teaching on marriage.

In our exploration of these differences it became clear to us that the draft resolution to change the Marriage Canon to accommodate the marriage of same-sex partners is not likely to pass in the Order of Bishops by the canonical requirement of a 2/3rds majority in each Order. Some of us talked of being mortified and devastated by this realisation. We feel obliged to share this with the Council of General Synod as they give consideration to the process for handling this resolution at General Synod. We have grappled with this issue for three meetings of the House, and we feel a responsibility to convey our inability to come to a common mind in discerning what the Spirit is saying to the Church. We share this out of respect for the considerable work that the Church has invested in preparing to debate this motion at General Synod. We continue to wonder whether a legislative procedure is the most helpful way of dealing with these matters.

We have been conscious that the presence of this motion has brought distress to some, and we acknowledge the deep pain that our statement will cause both within and beyond the Church. And we are all saddened that we do not seem capable of unity on this issue. Nevertheless we are committed to work toward the deeper unity for which Christ died, and we pray daily that God would mend our divisions. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in Christ, and so we are committed to staying together that we might witness the miracle of our healing.

In our deliberations, we affirmed a commitment to continuing conversations and engagement with the Report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, and to achieving the greatest pastoral generosity possible. There is a desire among us to explore other options for honouring and fully embracing committed, faithful same-sex relationships. We will also engage Indigenous and minority cultural perspectives in our Anglican family in our understanding of marriage…

There is an accompanying press release: House of Bishops sends message to CoGS.

And the Anglican Journal has this report: Same-sex marriage motion ‘not likely’ to pass in Order of Bishops

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MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

The same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

I told you TEC would stand alone, in the end.

DBD
Guest

Oh dear. So the Primates’ not-Meeting and the not-Sanctions have had the desired effect. Shameful.

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

DBD..the Canadian Anglican Church, albeit liberal has always been more conservative than TEC.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Methinks the Scottish Episcopal Church may have been encouraged in the other direction by the Columba incident.

Time will tell.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

A long statement that said, not a lot.

I feel for their struggle. Oh yes…

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Cowards.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Again, it is vital to bear in mind the recent past and all that gay men were subjected to by the state. What would be the balm of Christ truly, in such penal situations ?

http://www.advocate.com/world/2016/2/29/canadas-justin-trudeau-posthumously-pardon-man-jailed-being-gay?team=social

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I like the idea of the Chair of Canada’s General Synod reminding the House of Bishops that their decision made is their own House should not necessarily inhibit the decision of a previous General Synod Meeting to bring forward at the next Meeting of the G.S. the very matter they (the bishops) seem to have already prnounced on). The rules of a General Synod – anywhere else in the Anglican Communion, if not in Canada – is that all matters pertaining to Church government are actually decided at a joint Meeting of all 3 Houses of the General Synod, itself.… Read more »

Wade McClay
Guest
Wade McClay

The Princes of the Church have spoken apparently.

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

Fr. Ron: Contrary to your assertion, in Canada, a change to a canon must be passed by at 2/3 majority in all three houses (bishops, clergy, laity) voting separately at two successive general synods. THe laity and clergy may debate together, but they vote separately. The bishops (I think) may participate in the general discussion but vote separately and apart. What has happened here is that the House of Bishops has done a head count and discovered that more than 1/3 of them will not support the proposed amendment to canon. This need not, and probably will not, stop a… Read more »

Michael Ingham
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Michael Ingham

There are 29 dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada – in a nation spanning six time zones. A large number of these are rural dioceses, numerically small. Some – e.g. the Diocese of the Arctic – are huge geographic areas that require more suffragan bishops for small local churches than is the case in the often more compact urban areas. The majority of Anglicans in Canada live in or near urban centres (though Newfoundland represents a significant exception to this) whose dioceses largely – though not unanimously – support same-sex marriage. Toronto, for example, has five bishops in the… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

This notice from our House of Bishops cannot actually prevent the motion from coming to the floor of synod. A motion was passed at the 2013 synod requiring that the Council of General Synod prepare and bring this motion to the 2016 synod. So the motion will be presented. What happens after that, I think, is unclear. It may be debated, or it may be deferred. If Alan Perry is reading this, he may be able to enlighten us further. I don’t think our bishops are trying to kill the debate, and I don’t think they have been unduly influenced… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“The Episcopal Church Welcomes You…Canadians, to Get Married in the States”

Or, perhaps “ecclesial disobedience”: that’s up to you AngChCanada clerics….

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Maybe Canada could send them down here when Trump is elected and let the Christians go north? They sent Cruz, after all.

Eric MacDonald
Guest

I do not think that this outcome was the effect of the Columba declaration or the primates meeting. It is exactly what I would have expected. I’m not by any means certain, but I think the gay marriage issue might well not have succeeded in the Houses of Clergy and Laity as well. The Canadian Church is more conservative in many respects than the American Church. Despite being in some respects less British than, say, the Anglican Church in Australia, the Anglican Church of Canada does, by and large, take its cue from the Church of England. While I deplore… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Yes, Fr. Ron, echoing John Holding’s note above, the Episcopal Church also has a rule of the bishops, clergy and laity voting separately (though the latter two only on certain issues, not including canon changes unless such a vote is requested). Moreover, due to our peculiar General Convention, the Bishops do not even debate in the same space as the lay and clergy members. A the 2015 convention, our canon change was adopted by in all orders, voting separately; as were the provision for trial use of the new marriage liturgies. It strikes me this discussion in the Canadian house… Read more »

Jim Naughton
Guest
Jim Naughton

Thanks for that helpful information, Bishop Ingham. And thanks for your work and witness.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thanks, John and Tobias, for your informative responses to my assertion. However, I am speaking from ACANZP’s way of coming to any agreement on Church polity; which depends on open discussion by all three Houses on the floor of General Synod of the Province, which alone becomes the setting for legislation. Although Bishops can collectively make announcements on any issue they choose, they cannot determine polity on their own account.

Geoff McLarney
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Geoff McLarney

“Persuasive debate may even change some episcopal minds” Indeed, this is why one priest of my acquaintance was especially troubled by the statement. If the bishops took a “straw poll” and found that if the vote were taken tomorrow it would likely not pass their order, fair enough. But to issue a statement like this assumes that those straw numbers will be (more or less) the same after the synod debates. In which case why gather in synod at all? We could just electronically submit our votes according to our pre-arrived decisions. One of the bishops interviewed by the Anglican… Read more »

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

John Holding,
The Canadian General Synod sits unicamerally (except during the election of a Primate, when the bishops are sent away while the clergy and laity vote). Thus all orders are present and participate during debate. If a vote by orders is called for (such as for canonical amendments), the laity vote first.

Geoff, you have stated it quite well. Like you, I expected the change to fail in the order of bishops. But rather than at least giving the appearance of openness to the Spirit, they have declared the question decided.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“(and, FWIW, for the renaming and blessing of a trans person after the transition was complete legally” – John Harding

That’s a topic which gets very little attention and which I guess is rather complex. In the UK it’s probably unnecessary since I think the Gender Recognition Act actually affects baptism and confirmation records. I prefer the Canadian situation you describe, although it seems strange that the transition needs to be completed legally first.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The Anglican Journal has further comment from the primate, see

Bishops split three ways over same-sex issue: Hiltz

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/bishops-split-three-ways-over-same-sex-issue-hiltz

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Hiltz: “There [are] people, I think, in the church who would like to see us move ahead with same-sex marriage, but they’re wondering, ‘Is now the right time?’ “ “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering that outright rejection.” – James Byron

And all too often harder to change.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Yup, James, that MLK quote (from his Letter from the Birmingham, Alabama, Jail) nails it.

Lots of white straight men out there paternalistically deciding the “timetable” for justice, for liberation, for arrival at the Promised Land.

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

The Canadian Church at its worst is sheer mediocrity. Consensus for its own sake is an utter failure. In order for a bridge to function as a bridge, it must stand somewhere. Fred Hiltz is no leader. In any case, Canada will not defend the Episcopal Church from the attack from Canterbury. I understand why no religion is the new default for religion for many.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I must say that James Byron’s quotations listed here on Friday 4 March do seem to sum up the sitation admirably. Should the application of true justice wait for some future date, in order to be justified? Justice delayed is justice denied, surely?

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

The bishops’ actions also serve to disprove (if further disproof were needed) the moderate view that we can sit back and allow social change to drive religious change. In other words, let other people fight the battles, then join in their victory celebration.

Canada’s had equal marriage for over a decade; in some provinces, since 2003. Marriage equality’s a done-deal north of the border: even opponents accept it as a fact of life. If the Anglican church can ignore social pressure in Canada, it can ignore it anywhere.

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

I am a techno-idiot so I cannot link to a letter sent by my bishop, Dr. John Chapman, to the diocese of Ottawa reflecting on this article. While he mildly defends the release in question, his “mortification” (his word) at the attitude of the House of Bishops as a whole is stated clearly and without equivocation. While I would not go so far as to suggest a sense of anger at the lack of support for same gender marriage in church, he was clearly bitterly upset. Fine words are of course little comfort to the LGBT community, though he gives… Read more »

Alan T Perry
Guest
Alan T Perry

Building on Jim Pratt’s comments, to clarify the polity of the Anglican Church of Canada, the General Synod is indeed a unicameral body. Since the late 1960’s the Bishops, Clergy and Laity have met together (except for Primatial elections) but for most of that time the Bishops always voted separately. In 2013 second reading was given to eliminate separate voting by bishops. Now all three Orders vote together for ordinary matters, and separately (by 2/3 majority) for canonical and constitutional changes (and sometimes also with two readings). There are also provisions for members to require separate votes by orders on… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Thank you Alan.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Thanks to +John’s letter.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

The Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has issued a response to this statement from the Canadian House of Bishops. I think it would be fair to characterize the response as not particularly favorable to what the bishops had to say. The bishops’s suggestion that there should be another way of dealing with the proposal does not push the conversation forward if the bishops are unable to even suggestion other concrete options. The statement follows: *** To the Rt. Rev. Don Phillips, Secretary of the House of Bishops The Council of General Synod acknowledges receipt of… Read more »