The headline for an article in the Church Times on this statement sums up the message it contains; Pray with, but don’t bless, gay couples, say Canadians.
What is the reason for this weak statement from those who we imagined to be our closest allies? It is spelled out rather clearly in a paragraph near the end of the statement:
...To those who fear that these pastoral provisions have gone too far, we assert that this discipline is entirely consistent with the doctrine of the Church and with our membership in the Anglican Communion, and fits within the pastoral guidelines of the Windsor Report (paragraph 143)...So, we have TEC stating that we do not "officially" allow same sex blessings (insert winks), and now the ACC bishops come out with a rather hair-splitting statement that says "We will pray, but not really bless, although some may think of it as a blessing, we will not call it that" (again insert winks where deemed appropriate).
Why is all this subterfuge necessary? I'm rather fed up with it. Either we will bless such relationships, or we will not. Let our yes be yes, and our no be no, and let the chips fall where they may. Just stop all of this double talk. Not only is it dishonest, it is being celebrated as a victory by the Anglican extremists. We are seen as hesitant, weak and stepping back from the struggle.
Having said all of that, to hold myself to the same standard of honesty, I will answer the question that some may be wondering. Will I perform same sex blessings? No, I will not, for one reason; my bishop has told me that I am not allowed to do so. I am a person under authority. I will not function within a capacity for which the Church has not given me the authority.
Will there come a day when I am given that authority? I pray there will. But, with the stepping back we are witnessing within the ACC and TEC, that day does not appear to be in the near future.
When that day does arrives, one would assume the same standards would apply that are now in place for Holy Matrimony. The couple will be prepared. No priest or bishop will be required to preside at any wedding or blessing.
Returning to the Bishops' statement, this posturing must stop. The world is watching. Will we be dismissed as just another exclusive club, as many in the secular world see us, or will we be bold enough to make a strong proclamation to all the world that "in this Church, there will be no outcasts."