Magazine article Anglican Journal

Ontario Priest Disciplined for Marrying Same-Sex Couple

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Ontario Priest Disciplined for Marrying Same-Sex Couple

Article excerpt

A priest in the diocese of Ontario has been disciplined and had his licence to marry cancelled after he officiated at the wedding of a same-sex couple last August in a church in rural Ontario, where he is the incumbent.

Rev. Michael Bury, rector of St. John the Evangelist church, in Stirling, Ont., a small village located about 190 km east of Toronto, confirmed in an interview that his licence to perform marriages has been cancelled.

In an interview, diocesan bishop George Bruce said the cancellation is effective until further notice. "I had issued a directive in 2003 that we would not bless same-sex relationships nor conduct marriages. There was no canonical permission to do it. There are consequences (to such an action)," he said.

In an unrelated development, Mr. Bury has been on medical leave since Sept. 22 and diocesan clergy have been filling in at St. John's. The priority now is for Mr. Bury to regain his health, said Bishop Bruce.

Mr. Bury declined to comment on his licence suspension or on the same-sex wedding. He said his congregation is aware that his licence to marry has been cancelled and that he has been "ordered not to attend the church" until January 2008.

In a letter dated Oct. 24 and sent to clergy in the Kingston, Ont.-based diocese, Bishop Bruce stated that an unidentified priest had committed a "serious breach" of Canon XXI, the Anglican Church of Canada's Canon (law) on Marriage, which allows the sacrament for a man and a woman only. Mr. Bury was later identified as the priest involved through public documents.

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Bishop Bruce wrote that when questioned, "the individual indicated that they had no intention of asking me about this nor of informing me."

He added: "Whether the reason for this action was considered to be pastoral, or was an act in support of an individual theology is immaterial."

The bishop cautioned clergy against conducting same-sex blessings or same-sex weddings. "To be clear, no priest of this diocese may bless a same-sex relationship, nor officiate at a marriage of same-sex couples unless and until General Synod decides to amend the marriage canon," he wrote.

Bishop Bruce noted that General Synod has asked for a proposed amendment to the marriage canon to come before it for consideration in 2010. …

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