Friday, 31 October 2008
Canadian bishops issue statement
Updated Saturday morning
A post-Lambeth statement was released by the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada at the conclusion of its meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Link to it in full here.
This statement is also available as a PDF here.
The earlier document on Shared Episcopal Ministry is linked from this page.
The Anglican Journal has a report on this, by Marites Sison headed ‘Large majority’ of bishops agree to moratoria
Montreal bishop will work out rite for same-sex blessing by Harvey Shepherd
Ottawa bishop seeks approval for same-sex blessings by Art Babych
Central Interior assembly says ‘yes’ to blessings by Marites Sison
Also, see Lutheran Bishops issue statement on joint meeting.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Friday, 31 October 2008 at 5:41pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
It is sad that they are going to keep the moratoria in place until 2010.
As they have noted, some dioceses have not yet engaged in the listening process. They are dioceses who have determined that it would be ungodly to engage in the listening process. We should not wait for such souls.
That is the same as saying that until some cultures repent of murdering and abusing their women, no other society may put in place legal and cultural frameworks to protect women from abuse.
God did not wait for the Pharoah or his sorcerers, God was ready to create Judaism and humanity needed that stone to give humanity hope and a model of an alternative that affirmed the feminine, co-operation, gentleness, humility, forgiveness, compassion, and faith. The alternative was an exclusive world view that the world is only for the aggressive and powerful and that the only two options were to be an abuser or a victim. God created the third path.
Look at recent history, when the call for peace and compassion was made, who responded first? It was the masses. The governments and authorities were shamed into providing more to help with the 2004 Tsunami. The masses responded despite and without the authorities' permission or leadership (at that time Sydney Diocese didn't have a tax effective charity structure setup - they had to create one). The masses used the infrastructures that would work - the "evil" secular state had more robust structures that many "compassionate" Christian organisations.
Canada has a wonderful and proud history of not being bullied or subjegated by larger or noisier countries or peoples. Put faith in themselves, the bible and what is right by God. Don't let the negligent and selfish obstruct or sabotage, they are like Amaleks or Edomites who used guerilla tactics, hindrances and outright violence in their attempts to hinder, diminish and destroy the Judaic alternative. They failed, and even Jesus continued to show contempt for such kind of conduct - "unmarked graves" was his term the proponents of such thinking and strategies.
Perhaps they will issue another statement explaining what the statement means, if anything....
Our diocesan bishop, Barry Clark, indicates in the article that he'll be moving forward carefully: “I think that tends to be forgotten. There’s nowhere that anyone is permitted to bless same-sex marriages. We may be talking about it, my desire is to put the process moving in that direction but nothing has happened,” said Bishop Clarke in an interview.
The translation is that we're not talking about same-sex marriage but the blessing of civil marriages for same-sex couples. I suspect this has already happened in a very informal manner within our cathedral parish, which is very affirming.
There is a great rural-urban divide in the church in Canada, and far more bishops of small dioceses with under 20,000 members in far-flung parishes. The diocese of the Arctic is larger in land mass than all of the UK & France combined but communities are far flung and dedicated stipendiary priests are few. This skews the make-up of the house of bishops to be disproportionately rural and in general more conservative by nature.
The dioceses pushing the envelope are urban for the most part or mixed, such as Montreal, Ottawa, Niagara (3/4 of an hour outside Canada's largest diocese - Toronto). New Westminster is already blessing same-sex marriages in about 6 parishes & I believe Bp Ingham has stated that he won't authorize any additional parishes that request to bless same-sex couples.
Also for folks in other countries the reality is different here; same-sex marriage has been legal for several years and Quebec society is by-and-large more liberal than other parts of Canada. Unlike my 'home' diocese of Ontario, our bishop hasn't hidden behind the 'canard' of "our diocese has ceded authority over matters of doctrine to the General Synod". Bishop Barry is trying his best to be as pastoral and generous to all, moving forward with baby steps.
As *I* read it, they understand that some dioceses WON'T wait (for consensus re same-sex marriage), and that such dioceses will be respected in their decicions, regardless.
"Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, acknowledged that this stance allows dioceses such as Montreal and Ottawa some wiggle room to continue what their bishops have recently described as “incremental” and “experiential” steps toward same-sex blessings.' - Press Report.
Question: Does this 'wiggle room' allow of further actual blessings to take place in the Dioceses mentioned, one wonders, or is it simply an encouragement for the prophetic Dioceses to continue to 'study' the implications of the moratoria? This is not clear.
One could hope that 'experiential' steps towards same-sex blessings, as mentioned in the statement might mean just that - the 'experience' of action towards the implementation. After all, surely the expectation of institutionalising the moratoria is dependent on all parties respecting all three of them - including the cessation of foreign intervetion by the GAFCON entities. While this is not forthcoming, one treaty partner is missing!
And then, there is the matter of social justice to be taken into consideration - in respect of what does the Church do about offering blessings on relationships that are recognised by the civil authorities? This could be more of a problem for a 'state' Church like the C.of E.
"As a result of these conversations a large majority of the House can affirm the following:
"A continued commitment to the greatest extent possible to the three moratoria -- on the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships and on cross-border interventions -- until General Synod 2010."
Well, I'm not sure what it does say.
But it quite specifically doesn't say that all the bishops have agreed to the moratorium.
One diocese already has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions.
Four more dioceses (Montreal, Ottawa, Huron and Niagara) as well as the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (the former Diocese of cariboo) have synodically asked their bishop to authorize such blessings.
An attempt was made to introduce a similar act at the synod of the Diocese of Ontario, but it was ruled ultra vires by the bishop.
I would be very surprised if we did not see similar motions being introduced in at least another 2-3 dioceses over the next year. (Toronto and British Columbia seem the most likely to me.)
In principle, I am sympathetic to the idea of gracious restraint. But at some point, gracious restraint becomes explosive pressure.
"That is the same as saying that until some cultures repent of murdering and abusing their women, no other society may put in place legal and cultural frameworks to protect women from abuse."
Surely this an egregiously ill-informed and hyperbolic misrepresentation of the Canadian bishops statement.
Spokespersons for TEC often make the point that their polity is not understood or respected elsewhere in the Communion, as if TEC is the only province with a similar polity governed by both the rule of law and the rule of love. Of course it is not.
The Canadian bps have arrived at just about the only possible conclusion given the hand they've been dealt.
Let me recall, if it is necessary, that in Canada ssm is part of the law throughout the entire country, and on the whole it is widely accepted. There are many Anglicans who have played a role in our arriving at that point. The Diocese of New Westminster formally permits ssb, four other dioceses are well advanced towards the same goal and others will soon be formally entering on the same path. But there are others which for one reason or another continue to resist.
General Synod has called for proposals for a revision of the marriage canon to be presented at its next meeting.
Moreover, we do not have a single diocese that is even threatening to withdraw. A handful of parishes, mainly tiny ones, have withdrawn or are threatening to do so, but many important ones which might have been expected at a earlier time to have taken this route are eschewing it vigorously.
For those who have trouble understanding the substance of the statement, perhaps it might help to carefully read
- the links and the statement of the Primate included in the HOB statement,
- a statement from the Lutheran bishops who participated in the meeting of the Canadian HOB,
- and a report of a recent meeting of the Council of the North, a meeting of reps from northern dioceses
To aid in understanding better the last of these it may be useful to keep in mind that Bp MacDonald is an indigenous Bp and is closer to our indigenous brothers and sisters than some others who purport to speak on their behalf. As to Abp Buckle, his opinions are well known and of long standing, but he will retire shortly (and in Canada retired bps have no seat, voice, or vote in the CHOB).
Put all this together and I don't think one needs to be a rocket scientist to recognize that careful, honest, steady and patient progress is being made. Does one, nevertheless, become frustrated and impatient? Of course, frequently! But let's not exaggerate or misrepresent the truth of the matter in Canada.
Before Lambeth was even finished, Gregory Venables announced that he would not abide by the moratoria, and soon after several of his partners in crime did the same.
Why, then, do some insist in pretending that the moratoria are somehow still a realistic proposal? They are dead. Finished. Strangled in their cradle.
What will happen, as anyone with more than three functioning neurons can plainly see, is that the so-called "orthodox" will continue their piracy while the ACC and TEC are expected to give in to them *and* continue paying the Communion's bills.
What is forgotten in all this is that there are GLBTs who desire to be affirmed as being desirous and capable of living in life-long committed and affirmed relationships.
Their suffering does not disappear because there is a moratoria in place.
God is a relational being. We were created in God's image. We are also relational beings. It is wrong to with-hold affirmation from souls who are ready to make a commitment.
The dioceses who have not listened will not listen until there is evidence that the world does not end because GLBTs (or eunuchs) have been affirmed.
Of course, some might not listen until the world is about to end, and then listen, but that is merely their way of creating a scapegoat rather than taking responsibility for reforming their selfish cruel and destructive paradigms.
I have to wonder if Canada isn't giving Venables and crew just enough rope to hang themselves. Border crossings will continue despite what Synod says and just maybe by 2010 the ACofC will be able to say, "we did what you asked and this is what we got in response." What will the ABC do? If it's Semantu, it may force his hand to tell the GS, I don't recognize these replacement structures.
Only time will tell.
Truly though, education of the masses is most important. What I see is a lot of people at the higher up level not offering all the information and letting the pewsters make up our minds.
"there are GLBTs who desire to be affirmed as being desirous and capable of living in life-long committed and affirmed relationships."
Is this what sacrimental matrimony is all about, regardless of how heterosexuals have treated it for the past God knows how many centuries?