Toronto moves closer to same sex blessings

The Diocese of Toronto news service reports:

The bishops of the Diocese of Toronto are proposing to respond pastorally in the matter of committed same-sex relationships.

In making their proposal, the bishops made it clear they are attempting to work within the national House of Bishops’ 2007 statement on sexuality. In that document, the Canadian bishops said they are committed to “develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church.”

The bishops’ proposal in offering a pastoral response is as follows:

– Episcopal permission be given to a limited number of parishes, based on Episcopal discernment, to offer prayers and blessing (but not the nuptial blessing) to same-sex couples in stable, long-term, committed relationships, as an extension of the current pastoral norms.

– Episcopal guidelines on the nature of the prayers/blessing will be established. A particular rite will not be authorized.

– Episcopal permission for blessings will be required.

– Evaluation of this pastoral response will be undertaken after one year.

– No parish or clergy will be required to participate.

– A Bishop’s Commission will be formed to create the guidelines, monitor activity and review.

The College of Bishops Policy is here

The Toronto Star reports the story here.

According to Chris Ambidge, Integrity Canada:

In Canada, marriage is the bailiwick of the General Synod (it’s Canon XXI). So while we have same-sex civil marriage, that won’t happen in church until General Synod authorises it.

Ottawa, Montreal, Huron, Niagara and Central Interior have passed motions calling for a blessing of couples who have a civil marriage. Rupert’s Land has done the same “pending the passage of an enabling doctrinal motion by General Synod”.

The motion passed by Ottawa, Montreal et al would not make it to the floor of Toronto’s diocesan synod – our chancellor believes that the matter for General, not Diocesan Synods; and that the Ottawa motion is *ultra vires*. Obviously there is disagreement among diocesan chancellors on this, but that’s what we have to deal with [in Toronto].

The draft uses language like “not confused with the nuptial blessing.” The nuptial blessing is what takes place at a wedding. Since these won’t be marriages (those take place at city hall), whatever blessing the officiant pronounces won’t be “the nuptial blessing.” It is as much as can be offered pending General Synod amending Canon XXI.

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