Scottish Episcopal Church “bound by canons” to oppose gay marriage

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The Scottish Episcopal Church has filed its response to the governmental consultation on extending marriage rights to gay couples.

The Church’s General Synod has said it is currently bound by the canons which define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The response states that it is possible for its canons to be changed by consultation within the Church, but that it was not possible to have a “full debate” in the timeframe of the consultation.

In October, the Church’s head, The Most Rev David Chillingworth, said there was a possibility of it “changing [the] canonical definition of marriage”.

He wrote: “Jesus did not call the church into being as a citadel of orthodoxy. He was constantly criticised because he spent time with people who didn’t fit the conventional patterns and were deemed unacceptable by others.”

In the official response announcement, the Rt Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, who convened the working group for the consultation, said the wording of the current rules was “clear”.

“The Church’s current position is that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and this clarity allows us the space to listen to the many differing views held by the members of our Church.

“The general issues raised by the consultation document are matters which are already the subject of ongoing discussion within both the Anglican and Porvoo Communions, and in which the Scottish Episcopal Church plays its part.

“Our written submission is offered in the knowledge of these ongoing discussions, it is placed within the Government’s time frame and has therefore sought to indicate our canonical position without pre-empting any debate we as a Church are or could be engaged in.”

Both the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the Church of Scotland oppose the extension of marriage rights.

Online consultation responses can still be filed by members of the public until it closes on Friday.