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Anglican Church of Canada bishops reject same-sex marriage; laity and clergy support resolution

Anglican Church of Canada bishops reject same-sex marriage; laity and clergy support resolution
Progressive dioceses say they will press forward with same-sex marriages, invoking loophole local option

By David W. Virtue, DD
July 14, 2019

The Anglican Church of Canada voted at its General Synod in Vancouver this week not to allow a resolution that would have changed the definition of marriage.

The third-largest religious denomination in Canada rejected allowing its clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages. It called for deleting the words "the union of man and woman".

Voting however was close. The laity voted 80.9 percent in favor, easily passing the required two-thirds threshold. The clergy voted 73.2 percent in favor, but the bishops failed to reach the requirement of two-thirds in favor, with only 62.2 percent voting yes. Two bishops abstained, 14 voted against, and 23 voted in favor. 

As VOL predicted, there was much weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and defiance by progressives. David of Samizdat, an orthodox Canadian Anglican blogger wrote, "There was a lot of emotion following the vote. The final prayer was delivered by a lady who had tears trickling down her face. Like a zombie that just won't die, the possibility of a new motion to revisit the Marriage Canon resolution was raised from the floor at the end of the evening."

Almost immediately a number of progressive bishops defiantly announced that they would reject the vote and would proceed with such "marriages" invoking something called "local option."

Conservative Canadian Anglican blogger David of Samizdat wryly noted that as tax evaders are drawn to tax loopholes, so Anglican bishops are attracted to canon law loopholes. Although the resolution to change the marriage canon failed to pass at synod, resolution A101-R1, adopting the document A Word to the Church was passed by consensus by the Council of General Synod on March 16, 2019.

The document has this statement: Affirmation #2

Diverse Understandings of the Existing Canon

We affirm that, while there are different understandings of the existing Marriage Canon, those bishops and synods who have authorized liturgies for the celebration and blessing of a marriage between two people of the same sex understand that the existing Canon does not prohibit same-sex marriage.

In other words, bishops who are already marrying same-sex couples claim that they can do so because the existing canon does not prohibit them; so they can continue. And a motion affirming that idea has been passed.

"This is what we've come to in the Anglican Church of Canada: do anything you like as long as you can't find a rule that tells you not to," noted Samizdat.

The archbishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, Melissa Skelton, expressed sadness over the result. She was in hospital due to a recurring medical condition and watched the vote via livestream.

"I was very disappointed not to have been with our delegates on account of my illness as the vote on the marriage canon occurred tonight," Skelton wrote in a message to church members. "All I can say is that I'm very sorry for all the feelings of hurt that this vote has caused, and that I urge everyone to pray for the Anglican Church of Canada.

"Remember that this Synod is not over!" she added. "And so please pray that together we can find a better solution to the marriage question."

Vancouver Cathedral Anglican dean, Peter Elliott, a married homosexual, expressed his sorrow over Twitter. "This has been a long season of deep pain for the whole church."

Diocese of Niagara Bishop Susan Bell said she will ignore the Marriage Canon vote and will continue to marry same-sex couples. "My heart aches with lament and my soul is filled with anguish knowing all the pain and hurt caused by the General Synod's failure to ratify a change to the national marriage canon that would have explicitly expanded the meaning of marriage to include same-sex couples.

"To the members of the LGBTQ2S community especially, I want to say that I stand with you and I share in your tears. I deeply value the person God beautifully created and called you to be and your contributions to the life of our Church.  Your faithful witness has been long, difficult, prophetic, and sacrificial, and I give thanks to God for it.

"While I am deeply disappointed, the General Synod did also overwhelmingly vote to affirm the prayerful integrity of the diverse understandings and teachings about marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada. This includes the inclusive understanding of marriage affirmed by the Report on the Marriage Commission, This Holy Estate, that we hold in Niagara.

"As a result, nothing about this decision will change our practice in Niagara; I remain steadfast in exercising my episcopal prerogative to authorize the marriage of all persons who are duly qualified by civil law to be married, thereby responding to the pastoral needs present within our diocese. Two rites of The Episcopal Church, The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage and The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage continue to be authorized for use in our diocese, in accordance with our established episcopal guidelines."

This prompted Samizdat columnist to say, "If bishops are free to do this, why bother with a vote? Why bother with a synod?"

Following the example set by the Diocese of Niagara, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ottawa, the Rt. Rev John H. Chapman, said he will continue to perform same-sex marriages, and wrote this; "It is my intention, with the affirming support of the whole church with the passing of Motion A101-R1, A Word to the Church, to continue the practice of allowing same sex marriages in our diocese with the bishop's permission and following our normal protocols."

Over the next few days it is expected that other dioceses will follow suit, including Toronto (which has an openly homosexual married bishop), Montreal and Huron among others.

Bishop Geoffrey Woodcroft of the Diocese of Rupert's Land wrote to members of his diocese saying he will ignore the Marriage Canon vote and intends to make use of the Local Option - also known as the Loophole Option - and proceed with same-sex marriages.

The Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Canada, Mr. David Jones, has stated that the marriage canon does not preclude that marriage is between a woman and a man: The Anglican Church of Canada affirms, according to our Lord's teaching as found in Holy Scripture and expressed in the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer, that marriage is a lifelong union in faithful love, and that marriage vows are a commitment to this union, for better or for worse, to the exclusion of all others on either side. This union is established by God's grace when two duly qualified persons enter into a covenant of marriage in which they declare their intention of fulfilling its purposes and exchange vows to be faithful to one another until they are separated by death. The purposes of marriage are mutual fellowship, support,  comfort,  the procreation (if it may be) and nurture of children and the creation of a relationship in which sexuality may serve personal fulfilment in a community of faithful love. This covenant is made in the sight of God and in the presence of witnesses and of an authorized minister.

In 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the fourth country in the world to do this.

In other news, Synod elected The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls, Bishop of Huron, to be the new Anglican Church of Canada Primate to succeed the lackluster Fred Hiltz. She beat out Jane Alexander, the current Bishop of Edmonton. Huron is the second fastest dying diocese in Canada after Quebec. Nicholls recently participated in an LGBT virtue signaling walk under an umbrella on a rainbow crosswalk.



UPDATE: The Anglican archbishop for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has declared he would perform same-sex marriages and permit other churches in his diocese to do the same. Archbishop Ron Cutler's declaration comes after the church's national body narrowly voted not to recognize same-sex marriages late last week. "There is, I think, a majority of people within the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island who are in favour of widening our understanding of marriage to include people in the LGBTQ2+ community," Cutler told CBC's Mainstreet on Monday. Cutler, who spoke during a phone interview from Vancouver, said there were "cries of anguish" followed by "three or four minutes of stunned silenced" following the vote.

These are the dioceses that will now marry same-sex couples:

Diocese of New Westminster

Diocese of Toronto

Diocese of Niagara

Diocese of Montreal

Diocese of Ottawa

Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Diocese of Rupert's Land

Diocese of Huron 

Diocese of Kootenay

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