"The history of secular marriage legislation in Canada ably related by Ronald Stevenson, traces the effects of these and other developments as they have been reflected in the secular regulation of marriage. The Anglican Church of Canada has also expended considerable energy in formulating its responses to the shifting cultural -- and legal -- attitudes toward sexuality and marriage, not least in formulating and developing canonical legislation with respect to the regulation of marriage in the Church" [p. 198]. "The initial goals in canonical legislation of marriage in Canada had to do with the preservation of the institution of marriage, of the validity of individual marriages, and of the position of the Church within society. Whilst these goals have never been abandoned in the legislation, they have been overshadowed by the pastoral concern for the quality of individual marital relationships. The main evidence for the growth of pastoral concern for quality of relationships in the canonical texts is the introduction and strengthening of requirements for marriage preparation". [p. 211]. "Another example of growth in pastoral concern and a general shift in attitudes is the gradual revision of the definitions of impediments of relationships. .... The table [of Kindred and Affinity] was revised in 1946 to bring it in line with current federal legislation, and again in 2004 with a direct reference to the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act. But this latest change went beyond the Act by including relationship in the same household, even where a marriage between such persons would not be prohibited by the Act. Again, the primary concern behind this inclusion is the quality of the relationship, in this case preservation both of the equality of partners and the validity of consent" [p. 212]. "All of this canonical development has occurred against the backdrop of two other developments in the Church's thinking about marriage. One such development is in the understanding of the purpose of marriage" [p. 212]. "The second shift in the church's thinking about marriage, alluded to above in the changes in the purpose of marriage, has to do with the attitude toward sex. .... The introduction of a comment about sexuality in Canon XXVI in 1967 and the above-cited liturgical statement about 'delight and tenderness in acts of love' indicate a positive attitude toward sex as good in itself and an enjoyable benefit and purpose of marriage" [p. 214-215]. "The Marriage Canon Task Force that reported to General Synod in 2001 raised the question of whether the Church ought to authorize the blessing of common-law relationships and recommended against such action. General Synod concurred with this recommendation. Under the new civil regime, to offer a blessing of a same-sex union would amount either to blessing a common-law relationship, contrary to the Task Force's recommendation, or the Blessing of a Civil Marriage, even though such a marriage is not contemplated by Canon XXI. Rather than debating matters of synodical authority, in my view the General Synod will have to begin contemplating a canonical response to the Civil Marriage Act" [p. 218].
"An earlier version of this essay, tracing the history of the marriage canon's development was submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the LLM programme. The section on same-sex unions has been added in the current version". Footnote 1, p. .
Author "is a priest in the [Anglican] Diocese of Montreal and a student in the LLM programme in Canon Law at Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales". -- p. 222.