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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mass. diocese tables resolution opting out of marriage.

The convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts yesterday did not adopt a controversial resolution that would have asked priests to stop officiating at marriages. Mrs Philocrites reports that the sponsors of the original Resolution 1 offered a substitute resolution instead, which in its first part called for a year of conversation about marriage and in its second part urged priests not to solemnize marriages. The convention tabled the second part of the substitute resolution, concluding that it would be premature. Rather than opt out of performing state-recognized marriages, the diocese chose to spend a year thinking about it.

(Mrs Philocrites, who attended the convention as a non-voting candidate for ordination, did not get a copy of the substitute resolution, so I don't have the final text in front of me.)

The sponsors of the original resolution said they decided to offer a substitute resolution after meeting with groups of priests and laypeople in deanery meetings throughout the diocese in the weeks prior to the convention; they concluded that more conversation was needed. I take it that they encountered quite a bit of opposition or ambivalence among their colleagues. The diocese did the right thing.

The convention did adopt Resolution 4, the other marriage resolution on the agenda, which asks the next General Convention to authorize changes to the marriage liturgy in jurisdictions that allow same-sex marriage.

Update: The Boston Globe carries a brief report on the convention this morning:

Episcopal clergy to continue marriages

Episcopal clergy in Massachusetts will continue to marry couples -- for now at least. At a convention yesterday, delegates voted 324 to 43 to embark on a comprehensive study of both Christian and civil marriages. No time period has been set for the study, diocese spokeswoman Maria Plati said. The delegates voted to table an earlier proposal that called upon the clergy to stop signing marriage licenses. Although gays and lesbians have been able to marry in Massachusetts since May 2004, the Episcopal Church does not permit same-sex marriage, so only heterosexual couples have been able to take part in the church's marriage rites. Several weeks ago, some church leaders suggested that clergy should stop signing marriage licenses.

("New England in Brief" (sixth item), Boston Globe 10.29.06, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 29 October 2006 at 10:05 AM

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October 30, 2006 03:14 PM | Permalink for this comment

In a comment over at Father Jake's, DF in Massachusetts writes:

Here's the actual substitute resolution and the results:

Resolved, that beginning in 2007, the diocese will engage its laity and clergy in a process of study and dialogue about the nature of Christian marriage and civil marriage in order to clarify and articulate our understanding of the theology and ethics of Christian marriage.

Passed 324 to 43.

Resolved, that it is the sentiment of the 221st Convention of the Diocese of Massachusetts that the proper role of clergy in the Church includes being pastor to the people, administering the sacraments, and blessing in the name of God; and that for clergy to function as agents of the State in the legal aspect of a marriage, while customary in the United State, obscures the distinction between Church and State.

Moved to Table. Passed.

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