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'Painful': Sudbury Anglican priest who's a lesbian on church's same-sex marriage vote

While proposal to change church's marriage canon's laws narrowly defeated, there's a loophole
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Rev. Patti Brace of Sudbury was recently ordained as an Anglican priest. (Supplied)

“Painful.” That's how a recently-ordained Sudbury priest who identifies as a lesbian describes a vote this month by the Anglican Church of Canada narrowly defeating a proposal to allow same-sex marriage.

“It was gut-wrenching,” said Rev. Patti Brace, who was ordained an Anglican priest in May, and is taking a leave from her job as an Laurentian University English professor for a posting at a church in Nipigon.

“Particularly the youth were very upset.”

Delegates rejected a motion July 13 to add same-sex unions to national church laws at the General Synod — a meeting held every three years to decide issues of policy and doctrine.

To pass, the resolution required "yes" votes from two-thirds of each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops. 

Eighty per cent of the lay delegates voted to adopt the motion, as did 73 per cent of the clergy. But the bishops were two votes shy of what was needed to enter the proposal into law.

Last week's motion, if it had passed, would have formalized the church's position in its laws. 

The Anglican Church of Canada has been mulling whether to add same-sex marriage to its Marriage Canon for years.

Its leadership requested that a motion to amend the denomination's position on the issue be prepared in 2013. 

That resolution, approving same-sex marriages, narrowly passed in 2016 but needed a successful second reading at the next synod to be entered into the church's laws. That second reading failed July 13.

Brace explains some individual dioceses in Canada began allowing same-sex marriages in 2016, after the resolution passed first reading.

While the second reading, as explained above, was narrowly defeated at the 2019 General Synod, Brace said there's a loophole that will essentially allow each diocese to make a determination on the matter.

She said a document called “A Word to the Church,” put forward by the church's chancellor — its canon lawyer — said there's nothing in the existing marriage canon that precludes same-sex marriage.

Brace said the “A Word to the Church” document was passed with close to 85 per cent of the vote.

She said the church's bishops also put out a statement after the same-sex marriage vote that there's room for individual dioceses to proceed with same-sex unions “according to their context and convictions.”

“Basically what we've got is same-sex marriage as an option for the church by a different route,” Brace said.

Anne Germond, Bishop of the Diocese of Algoma, which encompasses Greater Sudbury, will make a statement on the issue this Sunday. Several dioceses have already issued statements.

“My expectation is we may move slightly more slowly on this than some dioceses,” Brace said. “We've got a little more work to do up here. We haven't done as much work as some of the southern dioceses yet.”

The mother of a 22-year-old adopted son who is not married herself, Brace said she's been a part of a support and advocacy ministry for LGBT members of the Anglican Church of Canada for almost 30 years.

The group, called Integrity Canada, sets up a display at each General Synod to spread the word about their cause.

In 1995, the national church affirmed the inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church, Brace said, and in 2004, it passed a statement affirming the sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships.

“It's been a long, slow haul,” she said. “One of the things that was really encouraging about all of this is at no point have we ever gone backward.”

-With files from Canadian Press 




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