Primate: On recent same-sex marriage recommendation in the Church of England

After several years of learning and discussion into human identity, sexuality and relationships through the study entitled, Living in Love and Faith, the Church of England General Synod will consider recommendations from their bishops. On January 20, the bishops issued their recommendation that prayers that may be used to bless civil partnerships, civil marriages and covenanted friendships, but they have not offered support for same-sex marriage within the Church. Their General Synod will meet in a few weeks to receive their decision.

The release of this recommendation has been difficult for many to receive. Some are deeply disappointed that the bishops have not supported marriage. Others are upset that any change is being proposed to affirm same-sex relationships. The bishops have indicated that there is ongoing discussion and study that needs to continue. This discernment process is one very familiar to the Anglican Church of Canada and equally painful.

We strongly affirm the dignity and place of 2SLGBTQI+ members in our church. In 1978, the Canadian House of Bishops affirmed:

We believe as Christians that homosexual persons as children of God, have a full and equal claim, with all other persons, upon the love, acceptance, concern and pastoral care of the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ compels Christians to guard against all forms of human injustice and to affirm that all persons are brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. We affirm that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law with all other Canadian citizens.”

General Synod 2004 affirmed “the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships.”

We have had painful, divisive debates on the matter of same-sex blessings and marriage and have been unable to find agreement. Some dioceses, after lengthy theological reflection and discernment, have made pastoral provisions for the blessing of same-sex committed relationships or marriage.

As part of the Anglican Communion, the decisions of one part of the family affect other parts of the family. The news from the Church of England will open painful wounds for many about our discussions and our inability to discern a way forward together.

We affirm the presence, dignity and gifts of 2SLGBTQI+ members of our churches. We oppose homophobia, transphobia and discriminatory practices based on sexual identity or orientation. We continue to listen together for the voice of the Holy Spirit in discernment about committed relationships.

I ask your prayers for our Anglican family.

+Linda Nicholls
+Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

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