Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Canadian Church report on Marriage Canon is published

Message from the Primate on the Report of The Commission on The Marriage Canon


Dear Friends in Christ,

Today the Council of General Synod received The Report of The Commission on The Marriage Canon. The report is very comprehensive and reflects the commitment of the members to address General Synod 2013’s Resolution C003 in its fullness.

You will recall that the resolution requested consideration as to whether the proposal for amending The Marriage Canon would contravene The Solemn Declaration of 1893; and called for a theological and biblical rationale for the blessing of same sex marriages. The Commissioners take us into a deep exploration of the theology of marriage and present several models for understanding same sex marriage. In accord with the request in Resolution C003 for broad consultation throughout the Church the report includes a succinct summary of feedback received from Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners.

On behalf of the whole Church, I want to thank the Commissioners for the diligence with which they went about their work and fulfilled the mandate given them by The Council of General Synod. They have laboured long and produced a fine report which will be a valuable resource to the Church.

In commending it for widespread study, I pray we be guided by the wisdom of the Spirit’s leading in our preparation for conversations at General Synod 2016.

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

Download the report (PDF)

There is a further page which contains more information, and links to all the submissions that the commission received, here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 10:25pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Canada

The Commission members, for their willingness into enter into the fiery furnace, for their desire to be of service to our church, for the labor of their hearts and minds, deserve our appreciation. The report requires close reading. As person who made a submission to The Commission, I'd like to share a couple of preliminary responses, tentative perhaps, formed after an initial reading. The section on theological rationale is very conservative. So it is ironic that it may be destined to be rejected by conservatives both in Canada and elsewhere in The Communion. The Commission (5.3.3.) makes significant use of the "grafting in" imagery from the NT, gentiles to Jews, in order to construct what The Commission terms an "analogy". It is disconcerting as it may contribute to a continued misplaced emphasis on difference between heterosexual and homosexual persons. There is also a possibility that this kind of theological application may inadvertently become another land mine on the tragic historical terrain of Christianity's relationship with Judaism. Note the following from section 5.3.3, "Finally, the inclusion of the new group does not invalidate the earlier covenant as wrong or no longer relevant ..." The reality is that Christian theology going forward from the NT has been used as the basis of attempts to do exactly that, i.e. invalidate the Hebrew covenant as wrong and no longer relevant---a past sin that is confessed by worshipers using the Canadian Good Friday Liturgy (BAS p. 316). The draft resolution (Appendix A) requires scrutiny. The Commission was required to come up with a conscience clause. However, the draft resolution really provides a conscience super fortress not just for individuals but for dioceses and parishes. General Synod will be the ultimate decider; but the text of the draft resolution signals the possibility of a fiasco in terms of a meaningful revision of a national Marriage Canon with reference to the global intent of the original motion (Appendix D).

Thanks to Thinking Anglicans for including the links to all the submissions The Commission received. They certainly cover the water front. It's been a very detailed process in Canada so far.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 5:12am BST

From this Report from the Anglican Church of Canada, it is obvious that the Indigenous Church is not about to break communion with the parent body - even though their culture may not agree with the proposed legislation. How different this is from the behaviour of ACNA!

Mind you, I suppose the opt-out clause might have something to do with it.

However, whether those in the Anglican Communion who will not countenance the presence of LGBTQI people within their churches will agree to remain within the Anglican Communion on the same basis - that of an 'opt-out' that would respect their conscientious objection to the acceptance of Same-Sex Relationships in other Provinces of the Communion - is shortly to be seen, in January 2016

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 10:36am BST

When this came on my email yesterday, I took a quick look, and I need to take time to read the entire report.

As to the draft resolution itself, the scope of the conscience clause struck me, as it did Rod, as too broad, especially in the ability of a bishop to unilaterally ban same-sex marriage in his/her diocese. Even with a ban enacted by diocesan synods, should there not be a conscience clause allowing dissenting parishes a means to opt-in to marriage equality?

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 1:41pm BST

From the highlights of yesterday's General Synod meeting here in Toronto.

"On the subject of the conscience clause, commissioners determined that an opt-out clause would be the best approach to accommodate bishops, dioceses and priests who choose not to authorize same-sex marriages, along with an option for ministers to decline for reasons of conscience."

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 5:42pm BST

"Mind you, I suppose the opt-out clause might have something to do with it."

TEC has opt-out as well. No priest has to marry anyone. Bishops have to make a way for couples to marry, but it doesn't have to be in his diocese (all the conservative, marriage opposing bishops are male).

That did not appease ACNA, who had already left over the consecration of +Gene and the election of a female PB. So far, I haven't heard of anyone leaving since the marriage ruling in June/july at General Convention.

Canada's is an interesting document with an admirable attempt to take in all voices. I wish them all the best.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 6:48pm BST

I know some of the people involved in this. I haven't read it yet, but plan to give it a good read soon.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 4:40am BST

"...but it doesn't have to be in his diocese."

When one sees the petition in the Diocese of Dallas, or the similar action in Albany, this is a very questionable assertion. Recall the pressure brought at the Cathedral in CFL.

The 'make provision' language will be tested all the way down.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 12:33pm BST

Dr. Seitz,

I just read the summary of Day 2 of the CoGS meeting, and it appears that some members of CoGS had concerns (even broader than those I expressed above) about dioceses and parishes "having a conscience". I would not go quite that far; I think it is within reason for parishes to set policies on weddings in the church (many parishes do, in terms of requirements on membership).

Traveling from Albany to Rochester or Vermont to get married in the church is an inconvenience, but quite minor compared with having to travel from the Yukon to New Westminster. A diocesan-wide ban is unreasonable.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 3:31pm BST

I hope I have made it clear--perhaps not--that it would be possible to see these carve-out arrangements as strategic 'gifts' (or in the case of TEC, faux 'gifts') whose point is to secure a compromise that will time out in short order anyway.

Expedience. Necessary stop-gaps.

I say this because I don't see any principled rationale being asserted.

I don't understand how TEC progressives would want to point to Trial Rite + 'make provision' as acceptable or as a sign of anything to emphasize. If this is a justice issue, then why force anyone to go anywhere but their home parish.

Conservatives I know don't buy this expediency/strategic idea.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 5:23pm BST

I'm actually less troubled by episcopal fiat in this case than synodical legislation. Marriage in our non-established church isn't a "right"; bishops are custodians of the administration of the sacraments in their dioceses, and have relatively broad latitude to regulate them. (A bishop could, in theory, even choose not to authorize the BAS). Their regulations, of course, may or may not be continued by their successors.

But allowing synods to enact diocesan canons by majority (or supermajority) rule to the end of proscribing what the national church has allowed strikes me as having much more troubling ramifications in canon law. I wonder when we will hear from Archdeacon Perry on all this?

Posted by: Geoff McLarney on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 8:03pm BST

"If this is a justice issue, then why force anyone to go anywhere but their home parish."

It is a justice issue. It is also a theological issue. But in TEC, GC and the House of Bishops wanted to make provision for those bishops who aren't "there" yet. There are only 7 diocesans. I feel bad for the couples in those dioceses and I would have advocated for having an option in each diocese (by consent of the parish). However, you can not have it both ways, Christopher, bashing TEC for forcing gay marriage down everyone's throat and then bashing us for making an opt-out for the 7 laggards.

Each diocese in TEC, and my guess is Canada too, has parishes that would do inclusive marriage and those who won't. That's really good enough. All this machination is about appeasing control freak bishops so that they can prevent justice, even in parishes that want it.

I really appreciate Jim Pratt's perspective on the size of Canadian dioceses and the hardship that represents to couples. It does make their equation different from TEC.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 25 September 2015 at 5:54pm BST

Simply argue for what you believe is right and do the necessary constitutional amending and all will be well. If you want to have area superintendents who are under orders from majority votes in a triennial Convention, then make the necessary constitutional changes. The present one does not envision or allow this expedience. Trial rites require roll call votes and a super majority. Title IV requires changing the office of PB. GC must do two readings to change the constitution. Undertake to do these things and you will have the new church you desire.

I am sorry but I thought my point was very clear. Half-measures, and strategic feints to help out what you call 'seven laggards' is just sloppy. Go for full justice. Do the work necessary procedurally. Create the church and polity you believe are now required.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 26 September 2015 at 12:41pm BST

The Primate of Canada made the following comment in an interview with the Anglican Journal, "I will go to the primates’ meeting in January and there will be some primates [who] will be all over me about this. I know that. But I try to, as I did today, remind people that in the polity of our church and in the decision-making of our church, here are the parameters within which we work."

The entire interview can be read here:


Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 26 September 2015 at 2:18pm BST
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