Communiqué from the House of Bishops concerning the Report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, called ‘This Holy Estate’
- The House of Bishops is profoundly grateful to the Commission for its thoughtful and comprehensive report. We believe that the Commission has served the Church well in fulfilling the expectations of General Synod 2013, as well as the mandate of the Council of General Synod to consult broadly within the Church.
- The House of Bishops has sought to engage the matter of changing the Marriage Canon in every one of its meetings since General Synod 2013. We have elected our own task force to help us structure our conversations, and, at the call of the Primate, we have agreed to assemble in February 2016 at a special gathering of the House in order to devote ourselves exclusively to this matter.
- Our conversations to this point have been marked by openness and charity, and this has enabled us to discuss frankly the range of hopes and fears that we are experiencing as we anticipate debate on this motion at our next General Synod, and the likely pastoral challenges we face if the motion, as it stands, passes or fails. We are mindful of the deep pain that either the passage or defeat of the motion will bring to our Church.
- We are concerned that parliamentary procedure may not be the most helpful way to discern the mind of the Church, or of the Spirit, in this matter, and we would ask those in charge of designing the process whereby the draft resolution comes to the floor of General Synod to consider ways in which trust and understanding can be promoted and deepened.
- We recall with thanks the process of General Synod 2010 and the ‘Sexuality Discernment Statement’ endorsed at that time. It continues to resonate with us both as a description of our differences, and as our hope for a Church that is marked by ‘grace, honesty and generosity of spirit towards one another’, where ‘we grow closer in the body of Christ and behold each other as gift’.
- At its special meeting in February, the House of Bishops will pay particular attention to the theology of marriage, the nature of episcopacy, and the synod’s legislative process. As we continue to wrestle with how to honour our roles as guardians of the Church’s faith and discipline and signs of unity both locally and universally, we hope to gain greater clarity and conviction about how most faithfully to provide leadership in our dioceses and the Anglican Church of Canada.
- We would ask all members of our Church to uphold all members of General Synod in their prayers as we seek to give expression to the unity we have in Christ where there is real disagreement. We would also encourage every Anglican to study the Commission report, using the study material supplied, and graciously speak to or consult with their bishops and synod delegates.