A186 as Amended Passes in Canadan General Synod

According to Peter at Anglican Essentials Blog the vote was:

C/L 152 / 97 Passed
B 21 / 19 Passed

The final text of the resolution read:

That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine (in the sense of being creedal) of The Anglican Church of Canada.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

34 comments on “A186 as Amended Passes in Canadan General Synod

  1. Kendall Harmon says:

    I am just returning from morning worship to find this. Very sad to see the deep division among the bishops. Given that the Saint Michael’s Report rightly ruled the question one of doctrine, it is a big mistake to proceed on a margin this thin.

  2. Brian from T19 says:

    Best I can reconstruct from the blogged amendments, the final language is this:

    A186 That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine in the sense of being creedal of The Anglican Church of Canada.

    The video feed crashed and the web postings from the GS office are not up to date so this is unconfirmed.

  3. wildfire says:

    I’m a bit confused. Resolution A184 on the St. Michael Report, which passed overwhelmingly earlier, contained the following language:
    “That this General Synod accept the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission’s St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal.”

    (I believe A184 as passed contained additional language about this not being a church-splitting issue, but the above language is from the General Synod official resolutions page.)

    A186 seems to me to be saying the same thing. Yet it passed by a razor-thin margin. What is going on? I would think this does not bode well for A187.

  4. LfxN says:


    The SMR said that the matter is one of core doctrine, but not credal. The motion that passed said it wasn’t in conflict with core doctrine. Pretty lame answer to the SMR… Disheartening…

  5. David+ says:

    It appears that “core doctrine” does not include the Doctrine of Marriage according to the Canadian Anglican Church. How sad, how sad indeed. My being a married man certainly goes to the “core” of my life.

  6. Irenaeus says:

    Remember this if the Anglican Church of Canada joins its southern sister in prating about its wonderful POLITY.

    This decision has implications for credal doctrine, notably the authority of scripture. The decision certainly bears on core doctrine. But if reappraisers don’t have the votes to do what they want through proper process, they do what they want through whatever process it takes. Then, at least in ECUSA, they speak as though the rosy glow of democracy, wise process, and benificent POLITY suffused the decision.

  7. drjoan says:

    I guess I would ask: What IS their “Core Doctrine?”

  8. john scholasticus says:

    I find Kendall’s reaction interesting. For it seems to concede that within a given constituency of the Anglican Communion, if the procedures of that constituency are properly implemented, it is legitimate to modify (OK, ‘change’) doctrine. Kendall’s objection is to the narrowness of the vote, not (it seems) to the principle. Is this right?

  9. Fred says:

    I’m thrilled on many levels. “They” said it was unlikley to pass. Looks like the Holy Spirit took over once again, showing us that exlcusion and injustice has no place in the core doctrine of this church. It is a great step forward into a 21st century worldview where “all” really means ALL!

  10. Kendall Harmon says:

    It concedes no such thing, #8. I care about process and outcome. This was a very confused process and is full of all kinds of problems. It could have and should have been cleaner. There were many options open that they could have taken to improve the process but they failed to do so (thus far, perhaps there will be late moves but I rather doubt it). So I diagree with both the outcome and the way it was arrived at. What is of course interesting is that numerous liberals who spoke felt the same way (about process).

    None of this takes away from the fact that I disagree with the outcome also. Gc 2003 made the same mistake–a wrong decision arrived at the wrong way. I was hoping GS 2006 would do better–perhaps they still will.

  11. Kendall Harmon says:

    I love statements like “they” said it was unlikely to pass (#9). Who is “they”? I never thought that. Anyone who has been watching the Anglican Church of Canada for the last several years would not be surprised by this.

  12. Irenaeus says:

    “It is a great step forward into a 21st century worldview where ‘all’ really means ALL!”

    Fred [#9]: Does that include unborn babies? Do you and your allies plan to recognize their rights?

  13. Tom Roberts says:

    “they” are the obvious complement of “us”
    That is how this “polity” works, apparently, no matter what +Hiltz might say.

  14. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “Looks like the Holy Spirit took over once again. . .

    I agree. It was the Holy Spirit that allowed the heretical actions of GC 2003 to occur, thus allowing thousands of the slumbering to wake up and see what had happened to their church. The result is that we have a real fight going on and open warfare, with a sharp, clear, defined, and public divide between the two gospels . . . and there have been and will be plenty of excellent consequences for the clarity of that decision. I expect the same thing for the Canadian church.

    Clarity is always a good thing — especially when it prevents the deceit and confusion that so many of the institutional revisionists are so very fond of. ; > )

    RE: “It is a great step forward into a 21st century worldview where “all” really means ALL!”

    Not really — “ALL” actually merely means the sexual orientations that Fred is fond of and approves of. But Fred does not approve [apparently] of orientations towards 1) consensual, mutual, loving, adult siblings, 2) consensual, mutual, loving polyamorous relationships, 3) consensual [through a living will, of course], mutual, loving life-challenged relationships, and 4) any number of other such sexual orientations.

    Fred wants Fred’s orientation approved of by society and the church, with the definition of marriage changed to match Fred’s orientation . . . but not all of the other many sexual orientations approved of by society and the church, with corresponding definitions of marriage changed.

    Nope. All most definitely does NOT mean “ALL” for Fred. Bigotry and hypocrisy.

  15. john scholasticus says:


    I disagree. ‘It is a big mistake to proceed on a margin this thin’ clearly concedes a principle about process, i.e. you thought the implementation of the process flawed, but did not (formally speaking, in this context, etc. etc.) dispute the process ‘per se’. Of course, I am very well aware you disagree with the decision taken. But one may very well disagree with a decision taken while not disputing the legitimacy of the decision-making process.

  16. john scholasticus says:

    #10, 11
    I also find the change of tone interesting. In your earlier posting, despite some reservations, you praised the openness and seriousness with which the Canadians were going about things. Now, it’s all different. Seems to me the only explanation for this is disappointment over the decision actually taken. But that’s not a principle.

  17. Brian from T19 says:

    Why do we need all of these process “hoops” to “jump through?” Process should be used to validate the outcome of something, not its intent. To argue that doctrine takes 3 consecutive votes to change seems a bit silly. Did the original Church Councils have 3 consecutive Councils prior to the new or exisying doctrine became the teaching of Christianity? Looking for a different outcome as a result of a different process is manipulating the outcome, not validating it.

  18. Irenaeus says:

    To put this resolution in context, consider the following secular analogue:

    “Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
    that warrantless searches of private homes are not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.”

  19. Kendall Harmon says:

    John, you are picking and choosing. I think the Canadian debate has been better than ours. But it is a fluid situation. The CoGS recommended 60% majority. I thought 2/3 over 2 synods better, but I could try to support 60%. They voted it (the process) down (with a split between houses). That meant I could support neither process not outcome. I still support that they did the theology of the blessings first, and are THEN turning to practice.

    I would not rate your listening skills very highly, John, as you have made multiple mischaracterizations in the above of what I am saying. Then you have guesses based on your supposed evaluation of tone and leaped to a false conclusion. Please deal with what someone is actually saying. It leads to real interchange.

  20. Words Matter says:

    It is a great step forward into a 21st century worldview…

    Alternately, it’s a great step forward into oblivion.

    To argue that doctrine takes 3 consecutive votes to change seems a bit silly.

    To argue that doctrine can be changed by any number of votes seems more than a bit silly. The historic councils were in the business of establishing and clarifying doctrine in response to specific historic challenges. Moreover, they were ecumenical gatherings, involving the whole church, not a regional branch. Even when representation at a council was less than universal, the council gained authority by universal acceptance.

  21. edistobeachwalker says:

    #8 has missed the boat. On Saturday night Kendall said:

    “but at least they are calling for a 60% vote in each order…”

    That is what the Committee of General Synod called for, but it was turned down. Hence Dr. Harmon is disappointed. Makes sense to me on a matter which is doctrinal and this important.

  22. john scholasticus says:


    Kendall, I don’t understand. You are still complaining about imperfect practice, not – explicitly – about the principle of – wait for it – provincial autonomy. ‘I could try to support 60%’ clearly concedes this.

  23. Kendall Harmon says:

    John, I appreciate your persistence. There are levels of evaluation. I do NOT conceed that this is a decision Canada should take alone, because it needs to be autonomy-in-communion. It should be as Rowan Williams has said a decision of the whole church.

    That said, IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO it, there are better and worse ways. To address the theology first is good, and they have thereby I think done better than TEC. But they really should have gone for a higher vote margin and paid more attention to the canoncial constitutional issues.

    You are basically criticizing me for what I don’t mention explicitly, which isn’t very helpful since this is not a forum for exhaustive arguements but really to discuss what is going on at the present time. In any event, I have now said explicitly here what I have said elsewhere. The two are in no way inconsistent.

  24. john scholasticus says:

    #9, 14

    British ‘liberal’ (etc.), I read ‘The Observer’. Today’s edition contained a commemoration of the 1967 Act which legalised homosexual acts in mainland UK, a retrospective of what things were like before that, and an update of developments since. It rightly emphasised the horrible things that happened to gays in the past. It was all nasty and disgusting. I do think that even conservatives who think that homosexual behaviour is always wrong should take far more account of that dreadful past – which is, of course, the present in bastions of Christian orthodoxy such as Nigeria.

  25. john scholasticus says:

    Kendall, I understand that. I am not so much criticising you as trying to tease out that you aren’t totally immune to arguments based on provincial autonomy. Of course, we all deploy a range of arguments.

    Peace (I hope).

  26. Irenaeus says:

    [I wrote the following comment before seeing #23-25. But I still hold to it:]

    “‘I could try to support 60%’ clearly concedes this.”

    Scholasticus [#22]: This decision by the Anglican Church of Canada raises many overlapping issues. For starters:
    (1) Does sound Christian doctrine permit any church to bless SSUs under any circumstances?
    (2) If so, does sound Christian doctrine applied in an Anglican context permit the ACC to make a unilateral decision to bless SSUs under any circumstances?
    (3) If so, did the ACC make this decision through a proper process?

    Just because Kendall mentioned one or two objections does not mean he waived all other possible objections.

    To play gotcha-games based on informal comments on a breaking story would seem like a nightmarish cross between the Stasi and a piece of flypaper.

  27. samh says:

    People have behaved terribly toward homosexuals in the past. OK. I’ll agree with that. Not to be rude, but what’s your point? A previous bad act by a group that may have been right in opinion did not act rightly, but that doesn’t mean that church doctrine needs to be adjusted.

    Hey, Jewish people have been severely mistreated in history. Maybe it’s okay for large numbers of them to blaspheme against God in denying that he exists. I just don’t see the thinking here, or perhaps I did not understand your post.

  28. Harvey says:

    Man the lifeboats the ship is listing!!

  29. William Scott says:

    Re: 17: Deciding doctrine by vote at all is even sillier. I comfort myself that this age too will pass. Still, if we understand that the stringency of the 2 consecutive 2/3ds majorities in all three houses is there to protect us from changes based on whim or fad, the process is all the more rational in the intellectual climate of our times.
    Is John Lydon a post modern saint (anti-saint)? I used to have that CD. Now I am a Warrior for another cause. Are the Gospels also lies? Are you a Christian? Really, I am curious.

  30. Deja Vu says:

    I agree with #27 sarah’s response to #24.
    I actually read in my local paper today a description of how the Nazi’s treated homosexual men in Germany. It must have been awful. But I don’t understand the logic that past mistreatment of homosexuals justifies or requires that the Christian understanding of sexual morality be changed.
    Take the case of prostitution. Prostitutes have been mistreated at many times in history and even presently. But few regard that mistreatment as justification for legalizing prostitution.
    Or moving ouside of sexual morality, what about theft? They used to hang thieves. Seems like a cruel over reaction. But we don’t respond by legalizing theft.
    Or false witness. Suppose they used to cut out the tongues of people who lied in court? Would that justify eliminating perjury as a crime? Obviously not.

  31. D. C. Toedt says:

    William Scott [#29] writes: “Deciding doctrine by vote at all is even sillier.

    In the broadest sense, of course, what we really decide is what we will do, or not do — in this case, the decision (indirectly) is whether to allow sanctions to be imposed on priests who choose to do same-sex blessings. For that purpose, it’s hard to see that a majority vote is materially worse than any other given process.

  32. William Scott says:

    31- As Church what we do always has a why. Doing is doctine.

  33. PadreWayne says:

    #6: “This decision has implications for credal doctrine, notably the authority of scripture”
    Which creed says anything about the authority of Scripture?

  34. john scholasticus says:

    I tried several times to reply to comments on what I said. Nothing registered. I gave up.