Scottish Episcopalians consider equal marriage
While the [presbyterian] Church of Scotland is due to vote today on whether to allow its ministers to be in same-sex marriages, Harriet Sherwood also reports in the Guardian:Scottish churches push forward on gay rights that:
…The Scottish Episcopal Church is expected to take the first step in a two-stage process at its synod next month towards changing church law to allow same-sex weddings in church. If passed, a second vote would be required next year.
Such a move would invite de facto sanctions by the international Anglican Communion similar to the measures imposed on the US Episcopal Church earlier this year after it permitted clergy to perform same-sex weddings.
David Chillingworth, the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “The canonical change would make it possible for our clergy to conduct same-sex marriages and to be in same-sex marriages – that’s the direction in which we’re moving.”
However, he added, “there is also a significant group of people who regard it as wrong, contrary to scripture and the fundamental teachings of the church”. He said his job was “to preserve the unity of the church”.
If the change to church law passed next year, he said, “we’re aware we will probably find ourselves in the same position as the US Episcopal Church. These are difficult issues; we are all in transition.”
ACNS has a more detailed report on this by Gavin Drake: Scottish Episcopal Church to debate changes to marriage canon.
…The current Canon, C31, begins by defining marriage by stating: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”
The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”
The full text of the report by the Doctrine Committee on the Theology of Marriage which has led to this debate can be found here.
This page contains links to all the documents for the June meeting of the Scottish General Synod.
Fulcrum has published a lengthy critique of the doctrine committee’s proposals by OliverO’Donovan available here, but also more conveniently as a PDF here.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 21 May 2016
Thanks to Simon Sarmiento of ‘Thinking Anglicans’ for this link to the Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC’s) notice of intention to debate the prospect of changing their Marriage Canon to allow for the celebration of a Same-Sex Couple’s Marriage in the Church.
Here is a report of the statement of ++ David Chillingworth’s (The Scottish Primus’s) opinion on what is about to take place at next month’s Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church:
“David Chillingworth, the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “The canonical change would make it possible for our clergy to conduct same-sex marriages and to be in same-sex marriages – that’s the direction in which we’re moving.” – However, he added, “there is also a significant group of people who regard it as wrong, contrary to scripture and the fundamental teachings of the church”. He said his job was “to preserve the unity of the church”.
While the Scottish Anglicans are thinking about the prospect of actually marrying Same-Sex couples in a Church ceremony; we in ACANZP (the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific Islands) are more cautious, preferring to address the question of whether, or not, clergy in our Church should be permitted to bless an already contracted Civil Marriage of Same-Sex persons.
A pertinent question in both instances may be: whether by changing a canon to allow the Church to either ‘Bless’ a Same-Sex Civil Marriage or, alternatively, to Marry a Same-Sex couple in Church, the Church is actually substantively changing the doctrine of Marriage.
Is altering a Canon of the Church – to suit a new circumstance in which a marriage may be performed in the Church – an actual alteration of the basic Doctrine of Marriage? Or, alternatively, is changing a Canon of the Church merely altering the rules under which a particular pastoral action of the Church may be amended?
These are matters currently being debated in ACANZP. Our next General Synod, in 2018, will hopefully have sorted out this issue in time to allow the Blessing of same-sex couples who have already become legally married in a civil ceremony. Whatever our Church in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands chooses to do; there will be no compulsion on any priest or bishop in our Church to perform such a ceremony.
Our recent (2016) General Synod decided to put this question on the back burner in the meantime; with the archbishops charged with the appointment of a second ‘Special Commission’ to look into ways of accommodating the two different views: on whether, or not, our Church should Bless Same-Sex Unions. Hopefully, by the next General Synod (2018), the matter will be sorted in a way to suit both parties.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand