Scottish Episcopal Church to vote on doctrine of marriage
The Scottish Episcopal Church has issued the following Press Release relating to its 2017 General Synod which will take place in Edinburgh on 8-10 June. The first key item of business on the agenda is the final reading of a proposed alteration to the Church’s Canon on Marriage which would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.
General Synod 2017
Representatives from dioceses across Scotland will gather in Edinburgh for the annual meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which takes place on 8-10 June at St Paul’s and St George’s Church, York Place, Edinburgh.
The first key item of business on this year’s agenda is the second and final – reading of a proposed alteration to the Church’s Canon on Marriage. This proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. The voting process on this proposed canonical change will require a two thirds majority in each ‘house’ of Bishops, Clergy and Laity. This session will be presented by the Church’s Faith and Order Board and will commence at approximately 2.30pm on Thursday 8 June, with the result of the voting ballot announced at approximately 4.20pm.
The following two days of General Synod will see a range of topics and issues debated, including a report on Climate Change Action and Fossil Fuel Investments by the Church in Society committee; and a look at how the Church can move forward in its Mission.
Preparing for General Synod the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says “At this General Synod we reach the final stage of our discussion of marriage and of same sex marriage in particular. The Scottish Episcopal Church, in common with all other churches, expresses a diversity of views on this question. Those views are held with integrity. Our church will seek to reach a decision on the canonical question while sustaining its unity in Christ. To do so will require both humility and generosity on all sides.”
Anyone who is not a member of General Synod is welcome to sit in the public gallery of St Paul’s and St George’s Church during the meeting of General Synod, and live video coverage of the meeting will be available on the Scottish Episcopal Church website, http://www.scotland.anglican.org/who-we-are/organisation/the-general-synod/general-synod-live-video-stream/ together with online updates of the proceedings and decisions of General Synod 2017. General Synod can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook
Note to editors:
- Requests for filming, photography and interviews should be made to Lorna Finley, Director of Communications on 07872 000887 or email@example.com
- The Primus will be available for interview following the announcement of the vote on the Canon on Marriage.
- The full proceedings of General Synod, including the debate on the Canon on Marriage, will be video live-streamed. http://www.scotland.anglican.org/who-we-are/organisation/the-general-synod/general-synod-live-video-stream/
The amendment of the canon on marriage will commence at 14:30 on Thursday 8 June. Initially, there will be a procedural motion (#4) to provide that the most important part of the debate, motion #6, is conducted by ballot. There are three main components to Synod’s considerations:
- Motion 5: That the amended text for Canon 22, Sections 2 and 3 be read for the second time.
The proposed changes are:
“2. The authorised services are those listed in the schedule to this Canon which the General Synod may by resolution passed on the recommendation of the Faith and Order Board amend by way of addition, deletion or other alteration. The authorised services are those listed in the schedule to this Canon. Any proposed addition, deletion or other alteration shall be initiated only on the recommendation of the Faith and Order Board and shall proceed by way of the process set out in Canon 52, section 17 and by no other process.
The College of Bishops may authorise the use for a defined experimental period of other services which may be added to the schedule by resolution of the General Synod at the end of that defined period”.
- Motion 6: That the amended text for Canon 31 be read for the second time.
The amended text for Canon 31 is:
“1. The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.
2. No cleric of this Church shall solemnise Matrimony except in accordance with the civil law of Scotland for the time being in force in relation to civil marriages and unless satisfied that compliance has been made with such preliminaries as are therein required for the Solemnising of Religious Marriages.
1. In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. Any marriage which is to be conducted by a cleric shall be solemnised strictly in accordance with the civil law of Scotland for the time being in force and provided said cleric is satisfied, after appropriate enquiries, that the parties have complied with the necessary preliminaries as set forth in the civil law. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church, for parties who are within the forbidden degrees as specified in Appendix 26. No cleric shall solemnise a marriage between persons of the same sex unless said cleric shall have been nominated on behalf of the Church to the Registrar General for Scotland”.
Sections 3 to 6 are renumbered 2 to 5.
The result of ballot on Motion 6 will be announced at 16:20. The following two motions will be proposed only if Canon 31 receives a second reading.
- Motion 7: That the amended text for Appendix 26 be adopted.
Appendix 26: Table of Kindred and Affinity, Wherein whosoever are related are forbidden by our ecclesiastical laws to marry together, is to be changed to:
1. Relationships by consanguinity: Parent; Child; Grandparent; Grandchild; Sibling; Aunt or uncle; Niece or nephew; Great-grandparent; Great-grandchild.
2. Relationships by affinity: Child of former spouse; Child of former civil partner; Former spouse of parent; Former civil partner of parent; Former spouse of grandparent; Former civil partner of grandparent; Grandchild of former spouse; Grandchild of former civil partner.
3. Relationships by adoption: Adoptive parent or former adoptive parent; Adopted child or former adopted child.
- Motion 8: That the following be adopted as Resolution 1 under Canon 31: “Where a cleric is to be nominated on behalf of the Church to the Registrar General for Scotland for the purpose of solemnising marriages between persons of the same sex, the person to make such nomination shall be the cleric’s diocesan bishop or, in the absence of a diocesan bishop, the dean of the diocese”.
[Note: The Agenda and Papers for General Synod are available here, for which there is a useful guide to navigating the document through its internal links].
Perhaps the Church of England will follow the example of French legal authorities which last week permitted a Frenchman to marry his recently deceased partner in a posthumous ceremony
Marriage according to the rites of the Church is subject to Part II Marriage Act 1949, so if posthumous marriage were ever to be agreed by the CofE, this would require changes to both statutory and ecclesiastical law.
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