Canada’s gay blessings will be ‘pastoral’: CEN 5.27.09 p 7. June 2, 2009Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
The Bishop of Huron has given his permission for clergy in his south western Ontario diocese to begin the blessings of same-sex unions.
In his address to the diocesan synod meeting in London, Ontario on May 24, Bishop Robert Bennett stated the new rites for blessing same-sex unions would be pastoral blessings, not “nuptial” blessings.
“I’m asking the Doctrine and Worship Committee to develop appropriate protocols, guidelines and evaluative tools to enable us to move forward with appropriate liturgies to celebrate the love, mutual fidelity and support that gay and lesbian Anglicans model every day for the church and wider community,” Bishop Bennett told the diocese.
At its 2008 synod meeting, delegates asked Bishop Bennett’s predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Bruce Howe to “grant permission to clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless the duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-gender couples, where at least one party is baptized.”
Elected Bishop of Huron on Oct 25, 2008, Bishop Bennett said he would seek to honor the moratorium on gay nuptial blessings requested by the Canadian House of Bishops in 2007, pending further action by the 2010 meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod, while also being faithful to the desires of his diocesan synod.
“I envisage that the framework for this would be Eucharistic in nature with approved intercessory prayers but with no nuptial blessing,” he said. “When the Doctrine and Worship Committee has done their work, I am prepared to consider giving permission for those requesting to move ahead, using of course, the approved liturgies.”
Bishop Bennett stated he intended to “embrace the pastoral model” and allow pastoral gay blessings while remaining committed “to maintaining the moratoria as requested by the wider Anglican family. For me, this season of ‘gracious restraint’ will take us to Halifax 2010. We find ourselves in an ‘in-between time’ that must be used to prepare for the national gathering and beyond.”
He noted the Diocese of Toronto had also “recently embraced a pastoral rather than a legislative approach. They intend to build on the 2007 National House of Bishops statement on sexuality that allows for a celebratory Eucharist with appropriate prayers but not a nuptial blessing for a civilly married same gender couple.”
In March the Bishop of Niagara, the Rt. Rev. Michael Bird announced that he had informed the Archbishop of Canterbury in January that he had authorized the creation of sacramental rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and that it was his intention to authorize gay blessings.
The March edition of the Diocese of Ottawa’s newspaper Crosstalk also announced plans for blessing same-sex unions. The Bishop of Ottawa, the Rt. Rev. John Chapman, announced that a committee had been formed to address the question of same-sex blessings. If the committee reports back favourably on the innovation “in the spirit of experiential discernment,” he said he planned to permit an Ottawa parish to begin the blessings. However, “this is as far as I am prepared to move on the matter until General Synod 2010,” he wrote.