The Primate’s Theological Commission, a group appointed by the Anglican Primate to consult on theological matters, has released a clarification concerning resolutions on the blessing of same-sex unions approved earlier this month by the church’s governing council.
The resolutions, approved by the Council of General Synod for the consideration of the church’s General Synod this summer, have been described as dealing with The St. Michael Report. But in fact only one of them does, the commission says in its statement.
The St. Michael Report was produced by the theological commission as a result of the Anglican Primate, on direction from the General Synod, seeking its opinion on whether or not the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine. The commission, chaired by Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton, concluded, in its report released in 2005, “that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal.”
(One of the reasons why the question of whether or not same-sex blessings is a matter of doctrine is important is that matters of doctrine require a more complex and lengthy process to change.)
The St. Michael Report has been widely studied across the church in advance of the General Synod next June.
The text of the Theological Commission’s statement follows:
A Statement to the Anglican Church of Canada From the Primate’s Theological Commission
The Council of General Synod, meeting in Mississauga, Ontario March 7-11, 2007, decided to forward to General Synod in June a number of resolutions relating to the blessing of same sex unions. These resolutions have been publicly identified with theSt. Michael Report. The Commission would like to clarify that with the exception of the first resolution (‘That this General Synod accept the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission’s St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal.’), these resolutions are not directly related to the St. Michael Report. In the interest of clarity, we respectfully request that in the future only resolution #1 quoted above be named as relating to the St. Michael Report.
The St. Michael Report highlights two crucial matters for the Anglican Church of Canada. The Commissioners continue to judge that these matters are of sufficient importance to bear re-emphasis. The first is cited in the last sentence of the Report and succinctly states the doctrinal issue before the Anglican Church of Canada:
- “It is now for the Church to decide whether or not the blessing of same-sex unions is a faithful, Spirit-led development of Christian doctrine.”
In its report the Commission has drawn attention to a range of theological and biblical matters relating to how the Church determines whether such a matter is “a faithful Spirit led development of Christian doctrine.”
The second is a pair of questions from paragraph 16 of the Report. These questions are of similar theological significance to the life of the Anglican Church of Canada as the doctrinal issue itself:
- “Is it theologically and doctrinally responsible for one member church of the Communion to approve a course of action which it has reason to believe may be destructive of the unity of the Communion?
- Is it theologically and doctrinally responsible to accept unity as the value which transcends all others, and therefore for a member church of the Communion to refrain from making a decision when it believes it has an urgent gospel mandate to proceed?”
The commissioners believe that these questions should be considered by the church, and most certainly by delegates to General Synod prior to General Synod’s discernment and determination on these matters.
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