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Anglicans in Canada: The possibility of civil disobedience

Anglicans in Canada: The possibility of civil disobedience

The Anglican Journal spoke with Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada, who recognized the likelihood of Anglicans on both sides of the same-gender marriage issue being hurt by whatever decision is made during this summer’s General Synod, as well as the possibility of parishioners and parishes leaving the Church.

And if decisions made by the General Synod are a point of disagreement within the communion (i.e. a vote against same-gender marriage), Hiltz says

“there could be some ‘civil disobedience’ on the part of clergy and parishes, and the bishops are going to have to handle that, because all of us that are ordained make a solemn promise to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Same-sex marriage must pass its first reading with a two-thirds majority in three bodies: bishops, priests and lay people, and right now the bishops’ vote is the most doubted. General Synod will also address topics including Muslim dialogue and the refugee crisis. Decisions on same-sex marriage have particularly strong pastoral implications for the bishops, perhaps a third of whom are still undecided.

“We’re all going into this synod knowing there will be pastoral implications no matter which way this vote goes, and every single bishop in our church has to deal with those pastoral implications,” he said.

“I know it’s difficult for people to hear me say this, but…if it doesn’t pass, the LGBT community is going to be deeply upset—if not, in fact, deeply offended,” Hiltz added. “And we will have to seize that as a challenge and an opportunity as a church to be, I think, much more deeply engaged with them in terms of their lived experience of their lived covenantal love one for another.”

Bishop Larry Robertson of the Diocese of Yukon, says,

“Regardless of what happens, people are going to be affected—whether there is a ‘no’ vote, or a ‘yes’ vote, or a delay vote or whatever it is,” he said. “We spent some time on just how do we then deal with the hurt and the pain of a result that people weren’t expecting or didn’t want.”



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Jos. S. Laughon

And the ACNA grows evermore from this, I guess.

Rod Gillis

ACNA is a product of American culture wars. In Canada at least, it has no significant future. For one thing, the stand taken by any church on the issues of human sexuality, are treated with a very big loud yawn by the civic culture.

Geoff McLarney

Don’t know about “evermore” – I think most of those for whom this is a deal-breaker have already joined it. Honest opponents and supporters of SSM alike recognize that the current practice of blessing but not civilly marrying is a distinction without a difference.

Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

This is a sad day for Canadians. Young Irish citizens and patrons went to the polls in overwhelming numbers to vote “YES” for marriage equality in one of the most Catholic countries in the world. I like to think that is a sign from God that the time has come to fully open this communion to all people. Things are changing and if the Church doesn’t it may well be irrelevant to the younger generations.

William Bockstael

Not really…Canadians do not need an Anglican priest or any clergy person to get married…civil marriage as been legal since 2005, besides, the United Church of Canada allows same-sex marriage as well

Rod Gillis

“This is a sad day for Canadians.” Canada has full marriage equality, so not so sad. However, it may end up being a very disappointing time for progressive Canadian Anglicans. If comment boards are any indicator, the majority of people supporting conservative bishops appear to be literalists, fundamentalists.

Rod Gillis

From the article, ” …all of us that are ordained make a solemn promise to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Anglican Church of Canada, ” A true statement; but one which oversimplifies issues of conscience and values conflicts. Clergy take an oath of canonical obedience; but the baptism covenant of our church demands that all of us “respect the dignity of every human being.” I would not be surprised if some clergy have already very quietly conducted same sex weddings based a sense of a higher loyalty.

Civil Disobedience, if that is what we are discussing here, is used by the disenfranchised as a way of changing unjust laws and policies. Suffragettes used it to gain the vote, workers used it to gain the right to organize, pacifists used it to protest wars of aggression, and so on. How ironic that a church which claims to speak truth to power is afraid of “disobedience” in the pursuit of justice.

legally married same sex couples, clergy included, are already full participating members of our church. How dysfunctional and dishonest it is to tacitly and quietly recognize such marriages while at the same time threatening canonical action if such marriages are conducted liturgically. Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t do justice. This is all about clericalism.

Thom Forde

The official Canadian Prayer Book does not contain the dignity clause that progressives in TEC over use.

JC Fisher

“the dignity clause that progressives in TEC over use”

Nevermind the incorrect citation—what a bizarre statement! Should there be limits to human dignity?

Rod Gillis

This has come up on this site previously. David’s comment is correct. The official site of the Canadian Church states, “The Book of Alternative Services, despite its name ‘alternative,’ has become the primary worship text for Sunday services and other major liturgical celebrations of the Anglican Church of Canada. ” I have attached a link. You can follow this to the entire text of the BAS, the Service of Baptism begins on page 151. Additionally, the baptismal covenant is used for the renewal of vows as well.

David Allen

The authorized baptismal service that is most used in the Canadian Church from the Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada (1985) expressly uses the dignity clause!

Celebrant Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human
People I will, with God’s help.

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