Thinking Anglicans

Reactions to the Scottish vote on same-sex marriage

Updated again Saturday

The Church of England issued this:

Statement on marriage in Scottish Episcopal Church

08 June 2017
Following the vote by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church to change to its canon on marriage to include same-sex couples, a spokesperson for the Church of England said:

“We note the decision of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church to amend its canon on marriage.

“This is a matter for the Scottish Episcopal Church.

“The Church of England is unable by law to marry couples of the same sex and the teaching of the Church of England remains unchanged.

“However this is a matter on which there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England.

“We are seeking to find ways forward rooted in scripture and the Christian faith as we have received it and which values everyone, without exception, not as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, but as a person loved and made in the image of God.”

Statement from the Anglican Communion Office from here.

…Following the vote, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon issued the following statement:

“The churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law. The Scottish Episcopal Church is one of 38, soon to be 39, provinces covering more than 165 countries around the world.

“Today’s decision by the SEC to approve changes to canon law on marriage is not a surprise, given the outcome of the vote at its Synod a year ago. There are differing views about same-sex marriage within the Anglican Communion but this puts the Scottish Episcopal Church at odds with the majority stance that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. This is a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage. The Anglican Communion’s position on human sexuality is set out very clearly in Resolution 1.10 agreed at the Lambeth conference of 1998 and will remain so unless it is revoked.

“As Secretary General, I want the churches within the Anglican Communion to remain committed to walking together in the love of Christ and to working out how we can maintain our unity and uphold the value of every individual in spite of deeply-held differences. It is important to stress the Communion’s strong opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.

“The primates of the Communion will be meeting in Canterbury in October. I am sure today’s decision will be among the topics which will be prayerfully discussed. There will be no formal response to the SEC’s vote until the primates have met.”

And from this source, additional material:

Some Questions and Answers

Q: What does the change in canon law mean?
A: It removes the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Q: When will the changes come into force?
A: The changes come into force 40 days after the end of General Synod – in late July.

Q: Who will be affected?
A: This applies only to marriage within the Scottish Episcopal Church. The Church of Scotland – which is a separate entity – is also considering changing its laws on marriage but has not done so yet.

Q: What about the rest of the UK?
A: The Church of England, the Church in Wales and the Church of Ireland are the other Anglican churches within the UK. The canon law on marriage in all three is unchanged: none is able by [canon] law to marry couples of the same sex and their teaching is the same as before.

Q: Will any measures be taken against the Scottish Episcopal Church now?
A: The primates’ meeting in Canterbury in October will consider how the Anglican Communion should respond. No action will be taken before then.

Q: Isn’t this is a further sign that the Anglican Communion is bound to split?
A: There is a very strong desire within the Communion to remain together – there is so much that we hold in common. The Task Group, which was set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year, is dedicated to maintaining conversation between us and restoring relationships and trust where they have been damaged. That work will continue.

Q: What do you think of Gafcon’s plan to appoint a missionary bishop for Scotland
A: We note the planned appointment. We will not be commenting on it at this stage.

The Primus has responded to the ACO statement: Unity in diversity

In response to a statement from Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (which can be read here), The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says:

“The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has issued a statement commenting on Thursday’s decision by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church to amend its Canons to permit same-sex marriage. The statement recognises that the Provinces of the Anglican Communion can each take these decisions within their own life. But I think it is important that I should comment on some other aspects of what the statement says and their implications for the continuing life of the Anglican Communion.

“The classic understanding of the position of Provinces of the Anglican Communion is that they do indeed have autonomy. But that autonomy is exercised in tension with a balancing sensitivity to the interdependence of provinces within the Communion. We, in common with other provinces, did not feel that the Anglican Covenant could successfully meet this need. The statement implies that the Primates’ Meeting will now fulfil this role. But such a role is not within their remit or authority. For the Primates’ Meeting was called together originally by Archbishop Coggan for ‘leisurely thought, deep prayer and consultation’.

“Archbishop Josiah, who leads the Anglican Communion Secretariat, speaks of the ‘majority stance’ of the Communion. We are deeply aware that yesterday’s vote puts us at one end of a spectrum in the Communion. But many other provinces are in their own way and in their own time considering a variety of responses to issues of human sexuality. The Communion expresses a growing spectrum of diversity. In that context, reference to a ‘majority stance’ seems misplaced. It is part of the genius of the Anglican way that we express unity in diversity – as we have tried to do this week in Scotland.

“We of course also respect Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998. But it cannot be elevated into a binding statement of Communion policy. Lambeth Conference resolutions do not have that force. The view of marriage set out in Resolution 1.10 was passionately expressed in our Synod’s debate on Thursday. It is one of the views of marriage which we uphold and carry forward in our diversity.

“The Scottish Episcopal Church carries in its heart a deep commitment to the Anglican Communion. We have been enriched by our Communion membership and we have in return made a significant contribution to its life. I understand that some will feel that the decision which we have taken stresses the life of the Communion. The question is how best the unity of the Communion can be sustained. We look forward to being part of measured discussion within the Communion about how that can be achieved.”

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Laurie Roberts
Laurie Roberts
4 years ago

Spokesperson at the ‘church of england’ squirming on cue,

But not in my name.

Iain McLean
Iain McLean
4 years ago

The most squirmworthy bit is this: “The Church of England is unable by law to marry couples of the same sex”. As if the law is a little green man from outer space. But as every reader here knows, that bit of law was inserted at the urgent insistence of the C of E itself. Nobody else asked for it. Ministers would rather not have put it in. As one involved (in a small way and not on behalf of Anglicans) in the discussions I am certain of that.

Keith Beresford
Keith Beresford
4 years ago

Please don’t hide behind ‘the law’

Scotland has shown that it can be done. Why did isn’t the CofE leading in equality for all. Not to say LOVE.

Tobias Stanislas Haller
4 years ago

For those obsessed with the authority of Lambeth Resolutions and their perpetuity, how about this one (Lambeth 1988, Resolution 72): This Conference: 1. reaffirms its unity in the historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within these boundaries; and in light of the above 2. affirms that it is deemed inappropriate behaviour for any bishop or priest of this Communion to exercise episcopal or pastoral ministry within another diocese without first obtaining the permission and invitation of the ecclesial authority thereof. Will the ACO make it clear that ACNA and GAFCON are :at odds” with… Read more »

Adam Armstrong
Adam Armstrong
4 years ago

What a dreadful statement by Fearon-direct from GAFCON headquarters. It’s clear that fear trumps justice, hate trumps love, and that there is no effective leadership in the Anglican Communion.

Andrew Lightbown
4 years ago

“However this is a matter on which there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England. “We are seeking to find ways forward rooted in scripture and the Christian faith as we have received it and which values everyone, without exception, not as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, but as a person loved and made in the image of God.” It is not that difficult. Accept that twin integrities can and do exist and facilitate both as the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Scotland have managed to do. It is the only way to value each… Read more »

Tobias Haller
4 years ago

I will also note that Lambeth 1.10 did not, by its own text, declare itself to be the “position” of “the Anglican Communion” but of “This Conference” — which is to say, the 1998 session of Lambeth. The C of E statement more correctly notes that there is a wide diversity of opinion in the Anglican Communion, and it has, as a whole, no other “position” than that.

Alan T Perry
4 years ago

Ah, but Dear Tobias, ACNA is not “of this Communion.”

Given that this new missionary bishop is being appointed to Europe, my count suggests that this would be an incursion into the territory of seven Provinces.

4 years ago

Quite a lot of daylight between the CofE statement, weak as it is, and the Secretary General’s.

Fr John E. Harris-White
Fr John E. Harris-White
4 years ago

Clearly the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion is the trojan horse in the Anglican Communion office from GAFCON, doing its bidding, and being its mouthpiece.
So the ABC can remain silent, and just give out platitudes which mean nothing. We love you, but not welcome in our house.

Fr John Emlyn

Tobias Haller
4 years ago

The problem, Alan, is that the ACNA is declaring the consecration of a missionary bishop to be an “initiative of the wider Anglican Communion” — a Communion of which it continues to present itself as a part. (And the Foley Beach invitation didn’t help matters…)

It is more and more a case of Schrödinger’s Communion.

4 years ago

“What a dreadful statement by Fearon”

This may be hard to believe, but it was a step forward for +Josiah Idowu-Fearon to clearly condemn criminalization of LGBTQI people and to respect national boundaries.

I just want to acknowledge progress where I see it.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
4 years ago

“It is important to stress the Communion’s strong opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.”

It is important to lie, because I and my friends are completely relaxed about criminalisation, and will not lift a finger or say a word to criticise governments which do so.

4 years ago

A great statement by +Chillingworth. Interested Observer, I think +Josiah is evolving. The dreadful primates meeting last year at least included condemnation of criminalization. Though some of the GAFCON bishops had left by then, they surely received the document. I’m pretty hot headed about this issue, as perhaps you’ve observed. But if someone is moving forward on the issue, I want to give them a chance. I challenged him in March of last year when he was in NYC, as did others. The confrontation put him face to face with what had previously been an abstraction. Gays wearing suits and… Read more »

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