In 2013 the General Synod passed a resolution (C003, which is included as an appendix to this report) directing the drafting of a motion “to change Canon XXI on marriage to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples, and that this motion should include a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.” Such a motion will be considered by the General Synod in 2016.
The General Synod resolution directed that the preparation of this motion should, among other things, demonstrate that a “broad consultation” had taken place. To that end the Council of General Synod established a Commission on the Marriage Canon consisting of individuals who, in the view of the officers of the General Synod, demonstrated a capacity to hear and understand the theological diversity represented in the Anglican Church of Canada. The commission was supported in its work by a clerk who is a member of the General Synod’s staff.
The commission’s terms of reference (which are included in the appendix) stipulated that its role was to recommend wording for the motion called for by the 2013 General Synod, as well as the wording for a conscience clause that would allow dissenting dioceses and clergy to opt out of authorizing or presiding at same-sex marriages. It was also mandated to prepare documentation demonstrating how such a change in the church’s traditional teaching on Christian marriage could be understood to be scripturally and theologically coherent.