At the end of General Synod in the summer, I spoke to you about some of the important decisions made there, and in particular how the motion to change the marriage canon to include same-sex marriage did not pass. It was an emotional time, and the bruises are still tender even now. In July, I promised to say more in the fall, and I’d like to give you a brief update now on where we are and where I believe we are going in the future.
We are working toward the day when all may be welcomed to be married in the Church. Every couple who desires Christian marriage in the Diocese of Toronto will have that opportunity. And every priest who wants to officiate at same-sex weddings will receive permission. It’s my hope to have new procedures in place by Pentecost 2020.
In the meantime, the College of Bishops, as a first step, is actively working on revising our Diocese’s guidelines on same-sex marriage to reflect where we are now as a Church. The guidelines are a placeholder while I continue to consult with the Primate, the House of Bishops, the College of Bishops, clergy and lay leaders to more clearly understand what we mean by “local option.”
We need to make sure this Diocese is a safe place for clergy who teach and uphold the traditional view of marriage, as well as for clergy who teach and uphold a view that includes same-sex marriage, so that all may thrive side by side. We want to move carefully and get this right.
I hope that we can address this matter together in a pastoral way. We’ve seen from the past two General Synods how painful it can be when we try to enact this change through motions and debate. It’s my deepest hope that we do not take a legislative approach at Synod or our pre-Synod meetings, but instead allow this process to unfold with trust, patience and love. I am committed to this way.
We’ve been walking with this matter for a long time, and it has not always been easy. Since becoming Bishop of Toronto, I have listened to people who hold perspectives on all sides of the question, and I am committed to providing gracious space for everyone in our Diocese.
I ask your prayers for me and for our Diocese as we move together into the future. May Christ show us the path toward light and life.
Thank you for listening.
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil