Mercer and Sider-Hamilton
Members of the Anglican Communion are discerning how they can stay together in light of same-sex blessings and the consecration of gay bishops. The proposed Anglican Covenant, which would define the relationship between provinces of the Anglican Communion, is one way of addressing these challenges.
General Synod 2010 will consider the Covenant. The question is whether or not the Anglican Church of Canada should approve or adopt the Covenant. We suggest that the church, given its present practice with regard to same-sex blessings, cannot in good faith adopt or approve the Covenant.
Indeed, the Covenant offers the Anglican Church of Canada an opportunity to be honest before the world about its commitment to same-sex blessings and its willingness, in the name of its own standards of justice, to walk apart from the universal church. Why can the church not adopt the Covenant? It cannot because the Covenant insists on a primary commitment to the universal and apostolic church, a commitment that the movement for same-sex blessings rejects as opposing its standards of justice.
To approve the Covenant is to approve its insistence on the wider voice of the church in our own deliberations about same-sex blessings in Canada. It is to take seriously the inherited teaching of the church on scripture, in this case with regard to marriage. To approve the Covenant is therefore to refuse to proceed unilaterally with same-sex blessings.
Since we are already proceeding with same-sex blessings in three dioceses, it would be self-contradictory, if not dishonest, to approve, still less adopt, the Covenant.
The Covenant offers the Anglican Church of Canada, instead, an opportunity to be prophetic. The call to same-sex blessings has been a call to the standard of justice of Canadian church leaders. It has declared scripture and the church’s teaching on marriage to be oppressive and outdated.
Let the church, then, have the courage of its convictions.
Let it, at General Synod 2010, stand apart from the Covenant and its insistence on scripture and tradition and the voices of all the provinces. Let the Anglican Church of Canada accept the potential cost of its call to its own standards of justice: a second-tier status in the larger Anglican Communion. General Synod cannot, in good conscience, do otherwise. Ω
The Rev. Dr. Canon Dean Mercer is incumbent of the Anglican Church of St. Paul’s, L’Amoreaux in Toronto. The Rev. Catherine Sider-Hamilton is a doctoral candidate at Wycliffe College, Toronto.