So, what hath Canada wrought? In summary, on the Vexed Question the General Synod
1) affirmed that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada, in the sense that it isn’t a creedal matter;
2) declined to affirm the authority of individual diocesan synods to authorize such blessings; but didn’t at the same time deny that authority, and informally (through the new Primate) allowed for a status quo in the Diocese of New Westminster;
3) adopted a statement that calls for pastoral response to the situation, which an accompanying document describes as possibly including liturgical functions short of a nuptial blessing; and
4) [appears to have*] committed to its Council the task of looking into amending the canons and offering a theological rationale for allowing marriage for anyone legally qualified to be married.
Point 1 will not please many who think that the sexuality issues are at the heart of the faith, and worth breaking communion over. Point 2 is a bit mysterious and seems to be a compromise designed to rock the boat as little as possible. Point 3 may be seen as even more of a mystery, since the church has never taught that the nuptial blessing is required for a marriage (in the BCP rubrics it is noted that wherever a deacon is allowed to perform a marriage, the nuptial blessing is omitted!). Point 4 is only a referral, but it does present one of those church/state tension-points so dear to Anglican hearts. Any canonical change concerning doctrine, discipline or worship (which this concerns) will require a two-thirds majority in each order in two consecutive session of the Synod. Note that this is about marriage not simply blessings. The Synod may well authorize blessings at its next session, which as it need not alter the marriage canon, can be adopted by a simple majority.
All in all, I am heartened by these actions. It is a source of no small frustration for many that by two votes in the order of bishops (as opposed to clear majorities in the other orders) a status quo is maintained rather than an advance. But having high respect for matters of polity, and seeing which way the wind is heading, I can rejoice that this is not a step backward, even if it means a delay.
* I say appears to have because this hasn't yet appeared on the official tally sheet as adopted; Anglican Essentials (a reasserter Canadian website) reports it was adopted early in the Monday morning session.
Tobias Haller BSG