February 21, 2011
FRANK FLEGEL
PRAIRIE MESSENGER

LUMSDEN, SASK. — Anglicans, Lutherans and Roman Catholics have similar views of marriage, but significant differences surfaced during discussions at the annual St. Michael’s Retreat Ministries Bishops’ Day.

Lutherans do not believe it is a sacrament, Anglicans sometimes refer to it as a sacrament but it is not recognized as such and Catholics consider marriage one of seven sacraments.

The Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex marriage, while Anglicans and Lutherans are “struggling” with the question. All three accepted that one role of marriage is to produce children and that it is a state of holiness.

Anglican Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson, Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Cindy Halmarson, Catholic Archbishop Regina Daniel Bohan, along with Franciscan Father Dennis Vavrek spoke.

“In marriage we live God’s grace but do not receive God’s grace,” as in a sacrament, said Halmarson. Her only reference to same-sex unions came at the end of her presentation when she said the Church has been developing a social statement for 20 years and she expected it would soon be completed.

Kerr-Wilson said Anglicans often refer to themselves as halfway between Lutherans and Catholics in defining marriage.

“Marriage is of the order of creation,” he said. “It finds its fulfillment in Christ. Married life is meant to be a sign, to grow in faith and holiness.” Anglicans accept that marriage is a life-long commitment, but recognize that sometimes marriages fail.

GOD’S PLAN

Bohan said marriage is God’s plan for humanity and it cannot be separated from religion. Marriage is a vocation, not a right and there are standards that must be met before couples are allowed to marry.

Divorce is not acceptable for Catholics, though Bohan said an annulment is granted when it can be shown that one of the standards required at the beginning of marriage was not met and, in effect, there was no marriage in the first place.

Halmarson and Kerr-Wilson said they agreed with the recent Saskatchewan court decision that ruled marriage commissioners work for the government and must provide services to everyone without discrimination.

Bohan said Canada was established on the principle that no person should be forced to do something they fundamentally believe is wrong. The court decision forces a marriage commissioner to perform a service which goes against his conscience or lose his job.