What Canada did

The Rev Canon Eric Beresford, president of the Atlantic School of Theology, weighs in on the seemingly contradictory votes recently taken by Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada on the issue of same-sex relationships.

Here are some excerpts from his article on the Web site of the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Although much has been written and said about the implications of the Anglican Church’s general synod debates on the blessing of homosexual unions, most commentators have told us more about their own hopes and fears than about the complexity of the situation created by last month’s vote. Put simply, the vote leaves the church in a state of confusion.

The doctrinal grounds for allowing such blessings were passed, but the motion that would have allowed for an orderly approach to the change was defeated. While it is likely that the negative vote cast by the bishops (refusing to approve the rite) was motivated by a desire for the unity of the church, it is unclear whether this will now be the result.


to say that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter indifferent is to say that it is a matter about which Anglicans might reasonably disagree both in theory and in practice. It is to say that it is a matter which cannot be the basis of discipline, and here is the rub.

By endorsing the 2005 St. Michael Report, and by declaring that the blessing of same-sex unions is not contrary to the “core doctrine” of the Anglican Church of Canada, the general synod has, at the very least, undermined the grounds for discipline against any diocese, bishop or priest who performs such blessings.

Of course, priests are bound by oaths of obedience in “all things lawful and honest.” The question is going to be whether or not it is lawful to require obedience from a priest on something the general synod of the church has declared to be a matter indifferent. Further, if it is a matter indifferent, the question is going to be whether a priest can lawfully be prevented from blessing, or entering into, a relationship that the 2004 general synod declared to have “integrity and sanctity.”

And finally:

Events are now likely to unfold in a way that is piecemeal in a context that is very uncertain. All this means that it is going to be harder, not easier, to maintain peace and unity within the church.

Read it all.

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