Oliver O’Donovan-The Wreck of Catholic Identity: Marriage Canon Revision in the Sc. Episcopal Ch

In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the proposal to change its Canon 31 on Marriage, removing the reference to “one man and one woman”, a step it prepared for in the equivalent meeting last year. At that time the Synod was presented with a paper from its Doctrine Committee, considering change to the doctrine of marriage “in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason”. That remains the only formal presentation of the questions at issue the church has published to date, so that when the question is asked, in Scotland and beyond, what considerations have led to this moment of decision, it is the sole source for an answer. It is important, then, to be clear what the nature of the guidance has been.

In a series of articles on the Fulcrum site published just ten years ago I discussed the broader question of how the Anglican churches could think together about the gay issue. 2 Between then and now I have written no more on the matter, and return to it now, prompted by the reflections offered to the Scottish Synod, with considerable reluctance. The paper in question devotes two whole pages to a partly critical response to what I wrote then, and I have no wish at all to pursue an argument, direct or indirect, with what they write about me, which was intended, and is taken, in candour and respect. But the issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church. But in the vacuum of Anglican theological discussion that prevails in Scotland, these fateful deliberations are able to slip by without much notice. As a theologian holding a license from a Scottish bishop, though with no part in any of the Scottish deliberations, I am not quite at liberty to shrug my shoulders when all around me are shrugging theirs.

Read it all from Fulcrum.


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