PEI

Door still open to Anglican same-sex marriage on P.E.I.

Anglican churches on P.E.I. may soon be performing same-sex marriages, despite a vote at the national synod on the weekend.

'I don't think all is lost'

The decision may lead some dioceses into even quicker changes, says Archdeacon John Clarke. (Laura Chapin/CBC )

Anglican churches on P.E.I. may soon be performing same-sex marriages, despite a vote at the national synod on the weekend.

A motion that would have amended the church's marriage canon to remove reference to a union between a man and a woman was defeated Friday night. The clergy and the laity voted in favour, but the bishops rejected it. All three groups needed to vote in favour.

"Everyone that I've spoken to has been deeply disappointed by what has happened. That includes members of this congregation and other clergy that I've had a chance to speak with," said Archdeacon John Clarke, rector of St. Paul's Church in Charlottetown.

"For me the real issue is that it's continued a great deal of hurt towards the LGBTQ community, and for many people within the church [that] are really hurt by this."

Local diocese can make a change

Currently on P.E.I. Anglican priests can bless same-sex civil marriages, Clarke said, but not perform a wedding ceremony for a same-sex couple in the church.

But Clarke said that could quickly change. He said the Anglican tradition allows for some variation of practices between diocese, and same-sex marriages — while they are not included in the canon — are not specifically excluded.

"I don't think all is lost," said Clarke.

"The Archbishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has indicated his willingness to proceed in terms of allowing us to have gay marriages in the church."

Clarke said with the decision being made locally, it may be possible to approve same-sex marriages more quickly than if the motion at the national synod had passed. From what he is hearing, Clarke thinks as many as half of the diocese in Canada may move to approve same-sex marriages locally.

"It's tremendously ironic," he said.

"I think the 14 bishops that voted against might be surprised at how quickly the rest of the church is going to move on this."

Difficult to go to church

But, said Clarke, that doesn't change the hurtful nature of the synod decision. He is concerned that it will drive people away from the church.

"I hope that doesn't happen, but I understand it," said Clarke.

"It was difficult for me to get up and go to church on Sunday, given what had taken place. The hopeful part for me is the overwhelming support for that local option."

Clarke said his congregation already had extensive discussion on same-sex marriages when the decision was made to bless civil unions, and the feeling then was that wasn't going far enough. He believes he has the support of his congregation to take that next step without further discussion.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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