Montreal synod to examine same-sex blessing issue

The 148th Synod of the Diocese of Montreal convenes today, and it opens hot on the heels of Ottawa’s recent approval of a same-sex blessing option, as reported here. The issue is on the table for Montreal as well, as the Montreal Anglican notes:

Part of the agenda will be devoted to a presentation on the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in Winnipeg last June, which was to a great extent dominated by the issue. Delegates in Winnipeg voted that a church blessing over a same-sex relationship does not conflict with essential church teachings but refused to affirm the authority of a diocese to allow such blessings, a razor-thin 21-19 majority among bishops being decisive in both cases.

In addition to reflecting on the Winnipeg synod, delegates at the diocesan one will be asked to request their bishop, Barry Clarke, to permit parish clergy to bless the same-sex marriages of couples already married in civil ceremonies.

The bishop would be asked to set up some guidelines for such blessings.

The proposal is to be put before the Montreal gathering by Canon Paul Jennings, on the staff of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and Douglass Doulton, a parishioner at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Montreal. Both were delegates to the Winnipeg synod. As described by Canon Jennings, the diocesan chancellor, David Eramian, who mentioned briefly at last month’s meeting of the Diocesan Council that he had been advised the matter was coming up, and others, the proposal would not compel any clergyperson unwilling to do so to bless such a union.

The minister’s parish would also have to support his or her involvement. Just how this would work could be a contentious issue.

This is from the PDF version of the Montreal Anglican, available here.

Other sources are reporting that the vote will take place tonight, and a wire-reported story offers some viewpoints:

Talk of a schism between orthodox and more liberal factions of the Church, which has spread since Robinson’s consecration, is “a reality,” Patricia Kirkpatrick, a religious studies professor at McGill University conceded.

But she says the motion by Montreal and Ottawa to put the issue of blessing same-sex unions to a vote, which does not mean parishes can marry members of the same sex, is part of the democratic tradition in Anglicanism.

“It’s important to remember that this is a process of discernment and that the listening process, because of democratic function, is important,” she added.

However she was hesitant to predict where Montreal’s 11,000 Anglicans might stand on the issue of blessing same-sex civil unions.

“(Montreal) diocese has discussed issues of sexuality and the church for the past 30 years,” said Kirkpatrick, adding delegates at the synod would be leading an informed discussion.

“There’s the same breadth of opinion in both the rural and urban communities,” said Rev. Paul Jennings, who is co-presenting the motion at the Montreal synod.

“I’m certainly aware this is a painful motion where people will be wounded and alienated on both sides,” he continued.

But stressed that the decision to bless same-sex unions is at its core “about relationships.”

“We’re talking recognizing the fact God has blessed a relationship. You can’t live (in a couple) for so long, without a little help,” Jennings said.

The source site seems to be having some CSS problems, but scroll down this page to read the whole thing.

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