Updated Sunday evening
Same-sex blessings are in the news again in Canada.
The Anglican Journal reports that Ottawa diocese appoints committee to consider ‘blessings’ and there is material in the March issue of Crosstalk in a PDF file. See cover story and then on page 2, Bishop John Chapman has written a column. The Journal reports:
The bishop of the diocese of Ottawa, John Chapman, has appointed a doctrine and worship committee to determine whether same-sex unions can be blessed on a limited basis in the diocese.
If the committee recommends that such blessings be allowed “in the spirit of experiential discernment,” Bishop Chapman said it would only be offered in one parish, St. John the Evangelist, an inner city parish which has long advocated for the rights of gays and lesbians.
“In the event that I instruct the parish of St. John the Evangelist to proceed, this is as far as I am prepared to move on the matter until General Synod 2010,” he said in his March column at the diocesan newspaper, Crosstalk…
Update His March column can be read in full as a web page here.
The National Post reported this under the headline Anglican diocese will defy and bless but also reported that the diocese denied it was breaking a moratorium:
…In a press release issued on Monday night, the diocese said: “Just as the Church was not able to come to a clear mind regarding the benefits of the ordination of women to the priesthood until it experienced the priestly ministry of women, Bishop [John H.] Chapman has taken the process of discernment with regards to same sex blessings to a place beyond discussion.”
and this was confirmed by a spokesman for the Anglican Church of Canada who said:
…what the Diocese of Ottawa is doing is not a breaking the ban but rather a continuation of their “discernment process.”
The same Anglican Journal report goes on to cover a related development in the diocese of Niagara. Bishop Michael Bird reports here on his recent visit to Lambeth Palace. Here’s an extract:
…In that interview I reviewed with him the multitude of task forces, hearings, Bishop’s statements, regional and parish meetings and the long list of Diocesan and General Synods that have discussed and wrestled with this issue since 1976. I gave him a full account of our dealings with dissenting parishes and the court proceedings we have been involved in. I shared with Archbishop Rowan our experience of the incredible contribution that gay and lesbian people have made and continue to make in every aspect of our Church’s life and witness, and expressed the overwhelming desire on the part of two Synod’s to move forward with the blessing of committed same-sex relationships for couples who have been civilly married. I also indicated to him my intentions with regard to my giving permission for these blessings to begin to take place.
One of the most powerful moments in the course of my fifty minute meeting with the Archbishop was the opportunity to describe the process of how our new Vision has emerged and how we believe that God is calling us as a Diocesan family to enhance and develop our work together under the five key areas of focus that are outlined in the Vision. In fact I indicated that it was my sense that the challenge the Vision offers us around the work of prophetic justice-making has made us even more determined to become a more open and inclusive Church.
Archbishop Williams listened carefully to my presentation and there was no doubt that I had his full attention. He thanked me for such a full and detailed report and he indicated how important this opportunity was for him to hear from me personally. We went on to have a very helpful and frank conversation about the implications involved and I expressed my own personal commitment and the strong desire of the Diocese of Niagara to remain in communication and dialogue with our sister and brother Anglicans around the world. I made it clear that we very much value and hold dear our membership in the Anglican Communion and we are grateful for his leadership and ministry…