Prior to the recently ended session of the General Convention, a few fringe voices had been raised contesting the constitutionality of provisions of Title IV of the Canons. Since the Convention, similar, if not identical, voices have been raised questioning the constitutionality of the liturgy for the blessing of a same-sex covenanted relationship.
Let me address the latter first. The bulk of Article X refers to alterations of and additions to the Book of Common Prayer, and for authorization of trial use to that end. The explicit proviso at the end of the Article allows the Bishops to take order for other forms in accordance with the rubrics -- the principal of which is the rubric on page 13, which deals with the question of additional rites directly.
In addition to [the Daily Office and Holy Eucharist] and the other rites contained in this Book, other forms set forth by authority within this Church may be used.This includes the Book of Occasional Services, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and more recent supplementary liturgical material such as those in the Enriching our Worship series. It also includes the liturgy approved at this past Convention by an overwhelming majority in both Houses, for the blessing of a life-long covenant. This liturgy is not in conflict with the BCP, any more than a liturgy for the blessing of a battleship would be. The fact that the BCP does not refer to such blessings is not in itself a limiting factor, nor does this blessing liturgy in any way conflict with or alter the forms in the BCP. It is a supplemental rite making provision for something the BCP does not address -- which is the nature of a supplement. By Constitutional definition, the limit upon authorized rites is respected, and with the proviso of local episcopal approval, these rites may be used as of authority in this church, equally as much as the rites I have enumerated above. Some bishops will decline or refuse to permit the use of this new rite -- this is what renders it provisional, and they will be within their competence to act in this way.
Questions of constitutionality have been referred to the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons. In the past they have been reluctant to rule on Constitutionality as beyond the ambit of their role, but in accordance with Canon I.1.2.n.3.v they have by resolution C116 been charged to take up the question. The opinions of canon lawyers (and others) on both sides will no doubt be considered in their deliberations.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG