Diocese of Ottawa to perform same-sex blessings

The Diocese of Ottawa has said it will perform same-sex blessings, becoming the first Canadian Anglican diocese to make such a move since the moratoria were agreed.

The diocese said it is developing a liturgy and protocol for the rite and once they are created it will start performing the ceremonies for gay couples on a limited basis. Archdeacon Ross Moulton of Ottawa said what his diocese is doing does not violate the moratorium because performing the ceremonies will help the diocese understand whether it is the right path to take. “There is nothing in the moratorium that says we cannot continue to discern,” he said.

In a press release issued on Monday night, the diocese said: “Just as the Church was not able to come to a clear mind regarding the benefits of the ordination of women to the priesthood until it experienced the priestly ministry of women, Bishop [John H.] Chapman has taken the process of discernment with regards to same-sex blessings to a place beyond discussion.”

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Anglican Church of Canada said what the Diocese of Ottawa is doing is not a breaking the ban but rather a continuation of their “discernment process.”

Ephraim Radner, a priest in the Episcopal Church who teaches theology at Wycliffe College, a Toronto, called what Ottawa is doing “provocative and hostile.” Radner is against same-sex blessings but has also opposed conservative factions that have left the Church of Canada. He said Ottawa “is making things much worse by ratcheting up the antagonisms.” There is still a chance in Canada “to get people to talk to each other before they actually walk off opposite cliffs … but if everyone goes off in these different directions how is there going to be any room for the communion to talk?”But critics of same-sex blessings say those steps will widen the schism in the Canadian church.

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