In news emerging from north of North America, Canadian Anglican bishops admit they are unlikely to secure a required two-thirds majority among themselves to approve changes to their marriage canon. See here, here or here.
No doubt (from some initial comments on the Thinking Anglicans' site) there will be debate as to whether this is a craven response to the Primates' Meeting or whether other issues are troubling the minds of the Canadian bishops. But it does seem an example of the immense difficulty which emerges in Anglican churches when an attempt is made to change the doctrine of marriage in favour of inclusion of same-sex marriage.
The doctrine of marriage is about the circle of love and affirmation which runs through a man and a woman marrying and the Scripture as well as the Tradition of the church affirming this as God's intended plan for humanity, along with Christ's approval via Cana, and Paul's embedding marriage imagery into ecclesiological vision for Christ's relationship with the church, all of course completely "reasonable" since it helps us humans to propagate in socially safe and secure ways.
Squaring this circle involves changing the definition of marriage from one woman and one man to any two people, invoking Scripture and Tradition in support of this change, with focused attention on selected parts of the narratives involved (e.g. focusing on companionship in Genesis 2 rather than on companionship and sexual differentiation). It is a change of such magnitude that the circle can only be squared in a theologically responsible manner if the catholic church (i.e. the whole church) agrees that the Spirit is indeed upending and overturning God's own revelation to the church. It is not impossible but it is much, much more difficult than some people (notably some Anglicans) think.
The recent Primates' Communique was not so much a "power play" as part of the catholic church saying that it is not yet obvious, even less agreeable that the circle can be squared. We might also note that a tiny proportion of the global church is considering the attempt to square the circle. In itself that observation should give pause for thought!
My sense is that the Canadian bishops are recognising that the circle cannot be squared and they will settle for an alternative to changing doctrine on marriage, authorising the blessings of same sex relationships.
I am happy to take comments here about the Canadian bishops' dilemma, or about the general situation of the churches worldwide considering change to understanding of marriage. Any comments specific to ACANZP's own attempt to square the circle should be made to yesterday's post. I will not publish comments made to this post which discuss ACANZP's A Way Forward report.