The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church is meeting in Edinburgh later this week from 9-11 June. There are papers and other information here. In particular the agenda and papers are all in this document.
The SEC press office has released this very helpful summary of the business before the Synod. As it states there:
What is likely to attract most attention at this year’s General Synod is the first reading of a proposed alteration to the Church’s Canon on Marriage. This proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman and would add a conscience clause for those who would want to exercise their right not to conduct a same-sex marriage. If the proposal is approved in 2016 there will be a further debate in 2017 when a two thirds majority in each ‘House’ of Bishops, Clergy and Laity would be required.
This business is scheduled for Friday morning. For readers’ convenience I have copied the current text of Canon 31 (the marriage canon) and the proposed amendments below the fold.
OF THE SOLEMNISATION OF HOLY MATRIMONY
The current text of Canon 31 and Appendix 26 is set out below for information. The text to be added is shown in italics and the text to be deleted is scored through.
1. The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God. 2. No cleric of this Church shall solemnise Matrimony except in accordance with the civil law of Scotland for the time being in force in relation to civil marriages and unless satisfied that compliance has been made with such preliminaries as are therein required for the Solemnising of Religious Marriages.
1. In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. Any marriage which is to be conducted by a cleric shall be solemnised strictly in accordance with the civil law of Scotland for the time being in force and provided said cleric is satisfied, after appropriate enquiries, that the parties have complied with the necessary preliminaries as set forth in the civil law. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church, for parties who are within the forbidden degrees as specified in Appendix 26. No cleric shall solemnise a marriage between persons of the same sex unless said cleric shall have been nominated on behalf of the Church to the Registrar General for Scotland.
32. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church, for parties who are within the forbidden degrees, as specified in Appendix No.26. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church for parties, for one or both of whom a decree of Nullity of Marriage Ab Initio has been pronounced by a Civil Court, nor for parties, either of whom has had a previous marriage dissolved quoad civilia in a Civil Court, so long as the other spouse in the marriage so dissolved remains alive, unless that cleric shall have been given a Certificate of Authorisation on the grounds that there is no ecclesiastical impediment to the marriage in terms of Section 43. 43. In cases where a decree of Nullity of Marriage Ab Initio has been pronounced by a Civil Court, or in any case where either or both parties to a proposed marriage has, or have had, a previous marriage dissolved quoad civilia in a Civil Court, but the other spouse to that marriage remains alive, any cleric to whom an approach is made by or on behalf of either party with a view to the solemnising of such proposed marriage shall refer the matter to the Diocesan Bishop. Upon receiving such reference, the Diocesan Bishop shall make such enquiries into the circumstances of the case, and take such pastoral and legal advice, as shall seem appropriate, and thereafter may issue, or decline to issue, to an officiating cleric, a Certificate of Authorisation in terms of Appendix No.27 authorising and approving that cleric’s officiating at the Solemnisation of Holy Matrimony of the parties concerned according to the Rites and Ceremonies and Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church. No Bishop shall entertain an application which has already been before another Diocesan Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church without the agreement of the Bishop of that other Diocese and the Episcopal Synod. 54. A cleric may use the form of Benediction provided in the Scottish Book of Common Prayer (1929) to meet the case of those who ask for the benediction of the Church after an irregular marriage has been contracted or after a civil marriage has been legally entered into, provided only that the cleric be satisfied that the marriage is not contrary to Sections 3 and 4 2 and 3 of this Canon. 65. The solemnisation of Marriage shall take place in Church except with the written sanction of the Bishop.
If the above alteration receives a second reading in 2017, it would be proposed that the text of Appendix 26 be amended as set out below:-
APPENDIX No. 26
A TABLE OF KINDRED AND AFFINITY, WHEREIN WHOSOEVER ARE RELATED ARE FORBIDDEN BY OUR ECCLESIASTICAL LAWS TO MARRY TOGETHER
Delete all current text and replace by
1. Relationships by consanguinity
Aunt or uncle
Niece or nephew
2. Relationships by affinity
Child of former spouse
Child of former civil partner
Former spouse of parent
Former civil partner of parent
Former spouse of grandparent
Grandchild of former spouse
Grandchild of former civil partner
3. Relationships by adoption
Adoptive parent or former adoptive parent
Adopted child or former adopted child