Marriage Canon process and the Diocese of Ontario
September 13, 2016
Further to my pastoral letter following the passage on first reading of Resolution A051 amending the Marriage Canon on first reading at General Synod and after consultation with the Bishops Advisory Committee and our General Synod delegates, I would like to share the process envisaged for the Diocese of Ontario leading to second reading of Resolution A051 at the next session of General Synod in 2019.
A canonical amendment at General Synod requires passage at two successive sessions of General Synod. Passage at first reading places an onus on Ecclesiastical Provinces and Dioceses to engage in an internal discussion with a view to sending input back to the General Synod for consideration by the delegates when the resolution is moved at second reading. I am currently in the process of extending invitations to a number of people with the view to forming a steering committee to guide us through the consultations and input sessions asked of us by General Synod.
It is my intention to announce the composition of the steering committee at the upcoming session of our Diocesan Synod. Over the course of the next two years leading to our Diocesan Synod in 2018, the committee will establish and undertake conversations in the Diocese and gather responses from individuals, parishes and organizations. My hope is that we will be in a position to discuss this matter at Diocesan Synod 2018 and forward, by way of resolution or memorial, the contribution of the diocese to the consideration at second reading of General Synod resolution A051.
I would encourage congregations and parishioners to take the opportunity of this time to study the various issues and perspectives surrounding the discussions and decisions regarding changing the canon on marriage. The Primate has encouraged us to engage with the report of the national marriage commission that was presented to General Synod and I join with him in asking your prayers for all whom these decisions affect.
In response to the question posed as to what changes have been effected by the passage of General Synod resolution A051 the short answer to that is none. Canon 21 remains in force as the operating rule of the Anglican Church of Canada. I have attached to this letter a copy of the guidelines I produced in 2013 in response to the question as to what is permissible when persons in a same sex relationship, who have been married civilly, seek reception and recognition of their marriage by the Church and a copy of Resolution A051.
Please be assured of my continued prayers as we seek the leading of the Spirit for the Church and my thanks for your prayerful discernment of the path forward.
Your Servant in the Mission of Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Michael D. Oulton