This past Thursday, 22 SEP 2016, the three indigenous bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) issued a statement expressing disagreement with the decision of this past summer’s General Synod to alter the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. They also criticised the process by which the motion to alter the marriage canon came about. The three bishops are: the Rt Revd Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Bishop of the ACoC; the Rt Revd Lynda Mamakwa, bishop diocesan of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh and the Rt Revd Adam Halkett, the diocesan indigenous bishop for the Diocese of Saskatchewan.
The bishops report that their statement is made at the request of a circle of indigenous elders that was held soon after the General Synod. They acknowledge that their statement does not represent the position of all indigenous people in Canada. However, they say that they did consult deep & widely into the indigenous communities of Canada. The bishops stake out the desire of the indigenous communities of the ACoC to claim self-determination within the ACoC.
The objection to the process by which the resolution to change the marriage canon of the ACoC came about, seems to be a cultural difference involving how discussions and decisions are made among the indigenous nations and the predominant western culture of Canada. They also objected to an indigenous elder being silenced when he was speaking about the resolution during the discussion period before the vote on the resolution. Although the bishops did not delve into the specifics of the situation. this was apparently an objection to requiring this elder to adhere to the same time limit everyone else at the synod was required to abide by during the discussion time period. Because the bishops state that the indigenous people of the ACoC found the process painful, they are calling for an investigation of the process which cut indigenous folks out of the conversation regarding changing the marriage canon prior to the General Synod. They are also asking the ACoC to reconsider how all future business of the church is handled in light of the differences in the western and the indigenous approaches to discussions and how decisions are made.
The statement also explained that the indigenous communities objected to same-sex marriage based on their cultural understanding of marriage being an aspect of creation and between a man and a woman. It also involves their belief that the same principles are born out through their understanding of Christian scripture.
It is our understanding that, while homosexual persons have always had a place in our societies, same-sex marriage, itself, has not. We find in both our reading of Creation and Scripture the unique relationship of Man and Woman. The difference between the two, coming together in the miracle of a unique spiritual communion, is essential to the way we understand marriage – but not only marriage, it is the way we understand the Land, the way we understand Creation.
You will find the full statement published on the Anglican Journal website.