The bishops of the diocese of Toronto are proposing that “a limited number of parishes” be given episcopal permission to offer prayers and blessing “but not the nuptial blessing” to same-sex couples “in stable, long-term, committed relationships.”
The bishops, who outlined their proposal at a Jan. 29 meeting of the diocesan council, said they plan to conduct an extensive consultation process and would present the guidelines for implementing the proposal at the diocese’s synods in May and in November. A bishop’s commission will be formed to formulate the guidelines.
The process could take a year, the diocesan bishop of Toronto, Colin Johnson, told the Toronto Star.
The bishops said that the proposal was well within the parameters recommended by the house of bishops, which in 2007 declared that they were committed to “develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church.” The bishops said that clergy may celebrate a eucharist and intercessory prayers with a same-sex couple, but not pronounce a nuptial blessing.
No rite will be developed or authorized in the diocese of Toronto’s case, said the bishops. Just what form the prayers or blessing would take has yet to be determined, said Bishop Johnson.
The Web site of the Toronto Anglican, the diocesan newspaper, said that Bishop Johnson had emphasized that “any movement towards the recognition of same-sex unions as marriage or the approval of authorized liturgical rites would fall under the purview of General Synod and not diocesan authority.”