Saturday, 25 July 2009
Niagara and civil marriage blessings
The Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada is in the news.
See Anglican Journal Marites N. Sison Deep divide over sexuality continues, and earlier, Diocese of Niagara to offer same-sex blessings.
And Religious Intelligence George Conger Bishop authorizes same-sex blessings.
From the diocesan website:
Niagara Rite of Blessing of Civil Marriage
The Niagara Rite is intended for the voluntary use of priests who wish to offer a sacrament of blessing regardless of the gender of the civilly married persons who wish to receive the blessing of the church and wish to affirm their life commitment to each other before God in the community of the church.
As such it does not imply nor is it intended to suggest that those who do or do not make use of this rite are excluded from the economy of God’s salvation. The rite is a means for the church to extend affirmation, support, and commitment to those who present themselves seeking a sign of God’s love in response to the love and commitment they express for each other and have already affirmed in a civil ceremony.
It is designed for the blessing of any couple who have been civilly married. It may also be used for the blessing or renewing of marriage vows for a couple celebrating a significant moment in their married life together.
Effective September 1, 2009, permission will be granted by Bishop Michael Bird for the use of the Niagara Rite as outlined in the protocols that are included.
And there are links from that page to other documentation.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 6:28pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Personally, I believe that the Niagara Rite is part of a secret homophobic plot to keep gay people from seeking to have our relationships validated in a Church ceremony. When no right-thinking, God-fearing, tasteful gay couple show up to ask for this awful, badly written, tacky ceremony to be performed over them, the dastardly gay-hating Bishop of Niagara will use it as proof that we don't really want SSBs, and try to ban them altogether.
Because that's the only scenario where relasing this laughably bad bit of liturgy makes sense.
"to offer a sacrament of blessing"
The use of the word "Sacrament" is bound to be inflamatory - it suggests far more than pastoral provision. There may be a case for developing pastoral provision, it is something more to add to the sacraments.
Why does the Anglican Journal think it's appropriate to call upon Masters, Harvey, and Anderson, given their well-known opinions and activities? Harvey has been instrumental in taking Canadian parishes away from their diocese and into the Southern Cone, as well as in the Network, ACNA, etc. Masters is to be made Bishop by the group that met in Texas. Their activities, especially in Masters' parish in Niagara are well known. Their work in undermining bishops and trying to persuade parishes to join them makes them the last persons we should hear from. Their views are well known and they have already left, so why bring them back and quote them at length? The Journal is giving them credibility and deference they do not deserve, given the damage they are actively trying to achieve. We can read enough of their disdain and self-promotion through their own vehicles-why does the Journal continue to treat them as if they have every right to comment on a Church they have chosen to leave in that Church's own press? This paper goes into almost every parishioner's home and is a godsend to the conservatives, paid for by the national Church. Meanwhile clergy who actually choose to serve and be faithful have to deal with the damage this does.
Having to constantly be urged by the rightwing spokespeople - to presume things I think are not only false but often blatently false and misleading; to speak to issues framed exclusively in double-bind either/or terms; to field accusations against any number of global or local neighbors; to constantly be invited to explain again, why I or somebody else is not only alternatively ethical and common sensical but even basically decent and human as a citizen.
These are the spin doctor games loudly and constantly played in nearly all media venues by conservative talking heads.
The sooner we find ways to stop letting them control the conversation, the higher quality our conversation will tend to be. The starting and elaborating presuppositions they import into their consideration of nearly everything important under the sun are already so off kilter that it is quite difficult to respond at all inside their preferred frameworks. The best one can do often, is to point out the narrow and off kilter presuppositions which often are driving their entire intellectual business, in favor of opening up the larger playing field within which hopefully our public conversations might occur.
One often needs to do this with the high and mighty iterations of conservative Anglicanism as one reads long, detailed essays by the likes of Wright, Radner, Sugden, and others.
Still, tiresome. Indeed.
The conversation with Anglican rights is sometimes like having a strict creationist student in an evolutionary biology class at the university. One wonders why he or she signed up for the class in the first place, as almost no question being asked has anything to do with the accurate understanding and evaluation of the goin evolutionary subject at hand. It's a constant verbal and intellectual tug or war, lest the class be effectively transformed de facto, into a class on Creationism vs Evolution; when in fact the official course description reads, Introduction to Evolutionary Models in Modern Biology.
I am shocked that Marites N. Sison did not ask David Vrtue his view, this is very unfair reporting!
“bishops simply do not have the spiritual, theological or canonical authority to change the teaching of the church at the local level, however much their diocesan synods may do so.”
An important point, and it needs to be addressed. Harvey's "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, it's all about Marsha! It's not fair!!!" (slams bedroom door in a sulk) comment is, well, not unexpected. His grace would be reminded that the bishop of the diocese of Niagra did NOT, having retired from his office, encourage those who were secretly organizing revolt against his replacement, did not falsely claim that he was being persecuted, did not support those who falsely claimed that the new bishop was threatening his clergy, and a great deal more. The surprising thing about Harvey is that he has little support in this otherwise relatively conservative diocese and hardly any in his old also relatively conservative parish, but he doesn't seem to have any idea why. He'd find out if he'd bother to ask, but then he wouldn't be able to think of himself as a martyr in the Great Matter, I guess.
“we now live in a church in which the presence and active involvement of those of gay and lesbian orientation is a reality.”
It always has been, we're just being honest about it.