News for Week Ending 12/17/2012
Draft marriage equality bill announced in ScotlandAs we noted in an earlier post, the Scottish government intends to introduce legislation to allow for same-sex marriage. Draft legislation has now been released, and comments on it are being solicited. The proposed legislation would allow, but not require, same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed in churches. The proposal is too complex to describe here, but Law & Religion UK summarizes the proposal and includes links to the draft legislation. In reading this material, keep in mind that the established Church of Scotland is not an Anglican church. (Frank Cranmer has written a brief but helpful piece explaining UK governance and its relationship to UK churches.)
British marriage equality bill would prevent English and Welsh churches from performing gay ritesEpiscopal News Service reported December 11, 2012, that a proposed bill in the British Parliament to allow for same-sex marriage (not simply civil partnerships) will allow religious institutions to opt-in to performing ceremonies on their premises. (Civil partnership ceremonies are now banned absolutely from churches and the like.) Remarkably, however, the legislation provides that neither the (established) Church of England nor the (disestablished) Church in Wales will be allowed to opt-in. That is, the churches cannot perform same-sex ceremonies even if they want to (which they currently do not). The Church in Wales has objected to this discrimination, but the position of the Church of England has been ambiguous. The situation is discussed in depth by Anya Palmer here.
English bishops to introduce new women bishops legislation in JulyEpiscopal News Service reported December 11, 2012, that the House of Bishops of the Church of England met December 10 to consider the rejection of the women bishops legislation by the General Synod. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The bishops intend to launch a consultation within the church beginning in February, with the intention of introducing new legislation when the General Synod meets in July.
Canadian church punts on theological evaluation of CovenantOn December 11, 2012, The Lead, citing a blog post by the Rev. Alan Perry, noted that the report on the theological implications of the Anglican Covenant prepared for the Anglican Church of Canada does little more than announce that the committee preparing the report could not agree. It is anticipated that the church’s General Synod will make a decision about Covenant adoption in July 2013. The theological evaluation, along with a study guide and legal analysis, was intended to inform that decision.
Documents filed with court in Falls Church CaseThe Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has posted a number of documents that have been filed with the Virginia Supreme Court involving the litigation with the dissident Falls Church congregation. Along with other documents related to litigation in the Diocese of Virginia, the documents can be found here. The Supreme Court granted The Falls Church the right to appeal its decision awarding parish property to the diocese on October 26, 2012. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Falls Church filed its brief for its appeal December 12. Brief from others supporting The Falls Church were filed December 14 and can be found here, here, and here. On December 13, the diocese and The Episcopal Church filed a motion to change the briefing schedule to allow Episcopal parties to submit their brief after the Supreme Court rules on their request that the court reconsider the role of the Dennis Canon in the case—see Pittsburgh Update story here—since that ruling could affect the arguments to be made regarding the appeal by The Falls Church.
Global South primates write letter of support to Mark LawrenceThe Steering Committee of the Global South primates wrote a letter to schismatic South Carolina bishop Mark Lawrence December 14, 2012, declaring that “we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.”
The letter appears to be a response to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s having accepted Lawrence’s “renunciation” of the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop cited Section 7 of Canon III.12, which, technically, requires Lawrence to have sent a written request to the Presiding Bishop to resign his orders, which he did not do. (The church used Lawrence’s address to the November 17 special convention in lieu of a written request.) The story from Episcopal News Service about the Presiding Bishop’s action ran December 5, 2012. A December 6 story describes Lawrence’s response and provides background on the use of Canon III.12.