Sunday, June 17, 2007

Anglicans seek decision on whether blessings are a matter of doctrine

When Anglican delegates adjourned their last national meeting, held in St. Catharines in 2004, they left some unfinished business.

A move to affirm the authority of each diocese to allow the blessing of same-sex relationships was put off until next week's General Synod in Winnipeg.

Delegates delayed the motion so that the church could study whether same-sex blessings were a matter of doctrine.


[A] team of 12 Anglican theologians in Canada met to hammer out whether or not the issue of same-sex blessings is a matter of doctrine.

If it's doctrine, it would be a matter of canon law and to change it, would require two-thirds' majority votes at two consecutive synods.

The theological commission concluded, in a document dubbed the St. Michael Report, that it's a matter of doctrine, but not core doctrine in a sense of being part of the historic creeds of Christian belief (Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian creeds).

Several contentious motions at next week's General Synod focus on same-sex blessings.

One motion, if approved, would affirm the St. Michael Report's conclusion that same-sex blessings are an issue of doctrine, but not core doctrine.

There's also a proposal to require 60 per cent majorities -- in each of the clergy and lay delegate subgroups and possibly 60 per cent majority by dioceses -- for approving the following two motions:

  • Same-sex blessings is consistent with core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada;
  • Affirm the authority and jurisdiction of each diocese to extend blessings to same-sex couples (the resolution deferred from 2004).

The resolution to increase the required majorities to 60 per cent would set the bar higher than the 51 per cent required for regular motions.


Last month, bishops across Canada issued a statement urging pastoral care, including administering baptism to children of homosexual parishioners.

They also suggest it's possible for a congregation to celebrate the Eucharist with a homosexual couple in recognition of their civil marriage.

But the bishops advised stopping short of extending nuptial blessings or having couples exchange vows.

The bishops reiterated that the church's doctrine doesn't allow for blessings of same-sex unions, but noted that could change at General Synod.

Rev. Gerry Mueller said he suspects delegates will devise some kind of a compromise.

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