According to Associated Press Religion Writer Richard Ostling in Canadian Church Nixes Gay Marriage Issue the Canadian General Synod will consider an alternative proposal to the one originally scheduled for a vote tonight.
A proposal authorizing Anglican Church of Canada dioceses to provide blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples was pulled Wednesday, just hours before a scheduled vote on the matter at a national church meeting.
The move reflected caution and confusion among church delegates over the impact the go-ahead would have on the Canadian church – and internationally in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion of which it’s a part.
It remained possible that liberals would try to restore the original proposal to allow “local option” on gay policies, meaning each diocese gets to decide for itself whether to allow the blessing ceremonies.
A revised proposal calls for a two-year study of whether same-sex rituals are “a matter of doctrine,” delaying action till the next national meeting in 2007. That measure appeared to be gaining momentum on Wednesday afternoon.
If the 2007 meeting decides doctrine is involved but wants to allow same-sex unions, that would require amendment of church law at two consecutive meetings – further delaying any approval until at least 2010.
But according to Oliver Moore in the Toronto Globe and Mail in Anglican activists water down same-sex motion the original proposal has not been withdrawn, but draft amendments have been submitted.
“It was actually the same people who moved the original motion,” Anglican spokeswoman Lorrie Chortyk told globeandmail.com. “A layperson from the diocese of Toronto and it was seconded by the Bishop of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.”
Ms. Chortyk denied reports that the original motion had been discarded because of its divisiveness.
“They haven’t discussed it all. It’s happening tonight from seven to nine,” she explained in a telephone interview from St. Catherines, Ont. “The original motion hasn’t even been presented yet. So nothing’s been tossed out or decided.”
Ms. Chortyk said that the 300 delegates at the meeting will have the chance Wednesday evening to vote first on whether to accept the motion as amended. If they do, it will be discussed and then voted upon.
If not, the original motion called that the issue be left to the discretion of the individual bishops.
In comments earlier Wednesday, the new head of the Canadian church had predicted that the original motion wouldn’t survive the day.
“There is a motion before the synod and discussion goes on through the day,” Primate Andrew Hutchison told CBC Newsworld early in the morning.
“But I think it’s quite unlikely that the motion will survive in its present form. It’s been subject to a number of amendments and I think, in the final analysis, we may end up voting on quite a different motion.”