That the General Synod refer to the Standing Committee on Faith, Worship and Ministry the following recommendations of the Marriage Canon Task Force:
(a) that an appropriate liturgy or liturgies for the blessing or dedication of a civil marriage be included in any future book of liturgies developed by The Anglican Church of Canada; and
(b) that a rubric allowing the use of appropriate adaptations of marriage services for the renewal of marriage vows be included in any revision of the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Alternative Services. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 22
The church's debates about same sex unions were thrown into a completely new context in June when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the federal law limiting marriage was discriminatory. The court legalized marriage for homosexual couples immediately. Reactions from churches.
Eric Beresford describes the process on this issue leading up to General Synod.
Dr. Zimmer noted that the Report on the General Synod Resolution (Act 36): Solemnization of Matrimony was a synthesis of the information gathered from experts, and that it did not address all aspects of the issue.
That this Council of General Synod receive the Faith, Worship and Ministry Report on the General Synod Resolution (Act 36): Solemnization of Matrimony for approval.
The mover and seconder agreed to remove the words “for approval.”
The motion which now reads:
That this Council of General Synod receive the Faith, Worship and Ministry Report on the General Synod Resolution (Act 36): Solemnization of Matrimony.
That this Synod recommend that the National Executive Council explore whether or not Government pension and welfare payments discriminate against married couples, and request its Officers to take action, if appropriate. CARRIED ACT 71
A new legal category of relationship could be established alongside marriage, which could be called "registered domestic partnerships". This new category would be open to heterosexual and homosexual couples alike and, for public policy purposes, would be legally equivalent to marriage".
"The purpose of the Bulletin is to present to its readers various, and sometimes differing, view-points on social subjects. Its object is, therefore, information and not propaganda. The Editorial Board does not necessarily endorse all, or any, of the opinions expressed in its publications". -- p. 3.
"The following study of Mormonism is abridged from the excellent pamphlet written by the Rev. Herbert W. Toombs, a minister of the Presbyterian Church at Ellisboro, Sask.". -- p. 3.
Contents: [List of] Publications of the Council for Social Service of the Church of England in Canada Available for Distribution -- Mormonism / Herbert W. Toombs -- Social Service Notes and News .
Section on Social Service Notes and News divided into sub-sections: Annual Report of the Committee on Social Service as Presented to the Synod of the Diocese of Montreal -- Resolution of the Synod of Ottawa on Marriage and Divorce -- Divorces Granted by the Parliament of Canada -- Resolution of the Synod of the Diocese of Toronto on the Question of Mixed Marriages -- Some Work of the Girls' Friendly Society in the Diocese of Niagara.
Moved by Archbishop Adams, seconded by Rev. Canon J.D. Mackenzie-Naughton
That whereas it has been drawn to the attention of the General Synod of the Church of England in Canada that leave to perform marriages is probably being granted to aliens who do not intend to remain in Canada or to become Canadian citizens, be it resolved that the attention of the Provincial authorities throughout Canada be drawn to this anomalous situation with a view to some corrective action and that copies of this resolution be forwarded to the Premiers and the Attorneys-General of each of the Provinces.
That this motion be referred to the Commission on Marriage and Related Problems, with power to act. CARRIED
That the House give approval to this statement. CARRIED #13-2-84
A STATEMENT OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS
On January 19, 1984, the Minister of Justice tabled in the House of Commons a Bill to revise Canada's divorce law. The proposed legislation departs from the provisions of the existing Divorce Act in that it abolishes matrimonial offence as grounds for divorce, and proposes that marriage breakdown should be the sole basis for the legal dissolution of a marriage.
The proposed legislation states that:
"in a petition for divorce, a breakdown of the marriage is established if, and only if (a) the husband and wife assert, in the manner prescribed....that the marriage has broken down; or (b) the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for a period of one year or more that immediately precedes, includes or immediately follows the date of presentation of the petition."
Questions about the acceptability of the proposed legislation to the Anglican Church of Canada have been addressed to various leaders of our Church, by the media as well as by members of the public -- including those of our Communion. In response, it must be stated that neither the General Synod of our Church, nor its National Executive Council, has specifically addressed the subject of Canadian legislation concerning divorce. In that sense, there is no "official" national policy of the Anglican Church of Canada relative to proposed changes in the law advocated by the Minister of Justice.
However, there is a Brief which was presented to the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on Divorce (February 23rd, 1967) by a committee appointed by the Primate (Archbishop Howard Clark) at the request of the House of Bishops. That Brief states that any change in the law concerning marriage and divorce should (a) continue to uphold the ideal intent of marriage as a life-long union (b) respect the integrity of human personality (c) help to strengthen family life (d) provide for custody and care of children and the protection of any other defenceless victims of divorce. A major part of the Brief is devoted to supporting the principle "that marriage breakdown should be substituted for matrimonial offence as the basis for divorce in any new legislation." The brief continues:
"It is our opinion that this concept provides a better basis for dealing effectively with the needs of people whose marriages have failed because it requires that a marriage be dealt with in its total social and moral context. We therefore recommend that in dealing with divorce petitions the breakdown of marriage should be recognized as a question of fact and that no rules of law defining marriage breakdown should be established, lest the present recriminatory attitudes and procedures continue to be fostered. Our conclusion is that the principle of marriage breakdown and the methods necessary to determine it as a matter of fact are basically incompatible with the principle of the matrimonial offence, and that marriage breakdown should replace the existing grounds rather than be added as a further ground for divorce."
The Committee on Marriage and Related Matters is charged with the task of suggesting policy to the Church in relation to contemporary marriage. That Committee was advised early in 1983 of the intention of the Minister of Justice to introduce amendments to the Divorce Act, and in subsequent meetings has given its attention to the matter. The Committee has recorded its opinion that in any responses the Church may wish to make to the proposed changes, it must affirm marriage and also the reality of forgiveness and the possibility of change in the individuals involved. This Committee also affirms the need to secure justice for dependent spouses and children when marriages have broken down.
While the Anglican Church of Canada has no "official" policy on divorce law reform, the following statements are consistent with our general approach to the matter:
(a) we reaffirm the principle enunciated by the 1967 Committee of the House of Bishops: viz. that marriage breakdown should be the sole basis for the legal dissolution of a marriage.
(b) the "waiting period" between breakdown and petition for divorce must not, under any circumstances, be less than one year. A longer period would be preferable.
(c) legislation should contain adequate provisions for maintenance and child support which apply uniformly in all parts of the country, and efficient enforcement of maintenance orders through the initiative of state agencies, thus relieving the dependent party of the exhausting task of seeking enforcement.
(d) The provision of divorce based on "no fault" and the reduction of the waiting period will put added pressure on the ideal of the permanence of marriage. Major increased emphasis on marriage preparation and the provision of counselling services by both the churches and community agencies will be even more essential if the proposed legislation is enacted.
The 1967 Brief asserts that:
"before proceeding with hearing for divorce on the grounds of marriage breakdown the court should be assured that every effort has been made to achieve reconciliation and that further attempts would be in vain. This would require exploration concerning the availability and use of professional services and the provision of the same when they do not at present exist."
In this connection we welcome the assurance of the Minister of Justice that "the new divorce law would promote mediation and counselling services at any stage of the divorce proceedings, to help prevent impetuous divorces where there is hope of saving the marriage."
(e) while stressing the importance of provision for counselling services, we do not advocate that mediation procedures be compulsory before court proceedings are initiated. We continue to support a report presented to the General Synod in 1969, which stated that "counselling, by its nature, cannot be made mandatory." On the other hand we commend counselling and negotiation with a view to arranging property settlements and making agreements for maintenance and custody before presenting the petition.
We appreciate the reasons for the changes in the legislation as proposed by the Minister of Justice -- namely a less adversarial, more humane and conciliatory process for dealing with marriages which have ceased to exist in any meaningful way. At the same time, we wish to state as emphatically as we can that the well being of the family as a basic institution in society continues to be a matter of profound concern for the Church. We trust that the new legislation, if enacted, will not convey the impression that the laws of this land treat lightly the seriousness, and the sacredness, of the marriage bond.