General Synod has voted by a majority but unfortunately an insufficient majority to change the Marriage Canon at this time. This news will be devastating to the LGBTQ community, and to the many clergy and Anglicans who support them, including myself.
This “No” vote recognizes that, like Canadian society at large, our Church is not of the same mind on this issue.
As a Christian, a bishop and a Canadian, I believe this is the time to amend our Marriage Canon – and I have spoken about this in today’s debate. My belief about this has evolved in recent years upon reflection on scripture, prayer and discussions with people across the diocese and the wider church.
Having witnessed discussions, debates and today’s vote, it is my conviction that a thoughtful pastoral response is now required for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are members of the Diocese of Toronto.
The integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships was affirmed by our church in 2004. I know there will be some among you who will disagree with me, but I do believe that the logical next step would be to permit same-sex marriages in the Church at the pastoral discretion of the Bishop and with the agreement of local clergy. This is an option I will be considering in the coming weeks.
I am advised that this option would not contravene the Marriage Canon, and I am confident it would be supported by the majority – even if not all – of our bishops, clergy, laity and the wider community.
I also respect that there are other convictions. No one will be obligated to act against their conscience. At my consecration as Bishop, I took a solemn vow to preserve the unity of our church, and that vow is central to my vocation. We are loyal members of a national church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and in spite of obvious and understandable frustrations and anger, I believe we can and will find a way forward together. If we do this together, it will be far better than if we do it apart.
I want to underline that even if we do not agree on today’s vote, we continue to be united in the most central aspects of our faith – our baptism in Jesus Christ and our commitment to serve His people. Because we are united at this level, we can continue to work through these important issues together – a challenge I embrace and look forward to.
Change to the centuries-old institution of marriage has come quickly, and all of us are at different points of the journey. We will continue this crucial discussion in the coming weeks, and I will be issuing a further statement at that time.
On July 12, General Synod discovered that the motion to amend the marriage canon had, in fact, passed. Read Archbishop Johnson’s further statement.