Bishop John Chapman has given a church in the diocese of Ottawa permission to begin offering a rite of blessing to same-gender couples who are civilly married.
The Church of St. John the Evangelist could offer its first blessing as soon as a married couple asks. At least one person in the couple needs to be baptized.
“Same-sex couples who are civilly married and seek the Church’s blessing of their marriage must be welcomed with the same care and solicitude that the church would extend to any other of its members,” Bishop Chapman wrote in his charge to the recent diocesan synod. “When the church blesses the marriage of anyone civilly married it does so recognizing that the couple is already married and that the blessing celebrates and deepens a reality that already exists.”
Last Sept. 1, the diocese of Niagara announced that clergy there could bless same-gender couples who have been civilly married. The diocese of Ottawa, on the other hand, has approved this for only one church and did not develop a new rite. At the Church of St. John the Evangelist, the blessing that will be given is one already used in the church for heterosexual couples who have been civilly married.
In his charge, Bishop Chapman explained that he decided not to ask that an entirely new rite be developed because his intention is “to embrace a liturgical process that will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. This will be Ottawa’s offering to the ongoing discernment that is happening throughout the Anglican Church of Canada.”