SYNOD SUP­PORT

Wan­garatta’s Angli­can dio­cese to ex­plore av­enues for bless­ing of civil unions

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - sker­win@ne­me­dia.com.au BY SI­MONE KERWIN

WAN­GARATTA’S Angli­can dio­cese synod has of­fered “over­whelm­ing” sup­port for a mo­tion to ex­plore the bless­ing by clergy of civil same sex unions.

The re­sult of changes to the Com­mon­wealth Mar­riage Act was one of the key is­sues - along with re­sponse to the Royal Com­mis­sion into In­sti­tu­tional Re­sponses to Child Sex­ual Abuse, and man­age­ment of the dio­cese’s aged care homes – to arise dur­ing the week­end gath­er­ing of about 100 clergy and laity in Wan­garatta.

Bishop of Wan­garatta John Parkes said the “mo­tion of sup­port and en­cour­age­ment” to the LGBTI com­mu­nity was sig­nif­i­cant, and built on the re­gion’s back­ing of same sex mar­riage in last year’s na­tional plebiscite.

“It is in­ter­est­ing that we are be­gin­ning to re­alise how badly we have treated LGBTI peo­ple,” Bishop Parkes said.

“We are be­gin­ning to re­alise that love is love, that peo­ple are made by God as they are, that some peo­ple are gay, some peo­ple are straight, some peo­ple are black, some peo­ple are white.

“I’m proud of the synod and de­lighted we have a com­mon mind, that it is a strength­en­ing of so­ci­ety when lov­ing peo­ple com­mit to one an­other.”

The mo­tion put to the Wan­garatta Synod on Satur­day was that the gath­er­ing:

* ac­knowl­edge the wide­spread na­tional and local sup­port for the re­cent changes to Aus­tralian mar­riage laws to in­clude same sex cou­ples;

* com­mend the pas­toral value of the Bishop au­tho­ris­ing a form of bless­ing for op­tional use within the Dio­cese of Wan­garatta along­side or in ad­di­tion to a wed­ding con­ducted by a civil cel­e­brant; and

* re­quest that the Bishop of Wan­garatta en­sure op­por­tu­nity for the clergy and laity of the dio­cese to en­gage in fur­ther dis­cus­sion as part of the process lead­ing to the po­ten­tial dioce­san pro­vi­sion for the bless­ing of civil mar­riages.

The mo­tion was moved by Archdea­con Clarence Bester, and sec­onded by Archdea­con Emer­i­tus Dr John Davis.

While the de­ci­sion was not unan­i­mous, Bishop Parkes said the mo­tion was passed “over­whelm­ingly”.

He said there had been some re­quests made in the dio­cese for bless­ing of same sex unions, and he would con­tinue to take ad­vice on how the dio­cese could bless civil same sex unions while up­hold­ing the canon of the church’s con­sti­tu­tion.

“While it re­mains not pos­si­ble to con­duct mar­riages ac­cord­ing to the rites of the Angli­can Church of Aus­tralia, the ques­tion does arise whether clergy are able to bless civil unions,” Bishop Parkes said in his ad­dress, or charge, to the synod on Fri­day.

“Ques­tions of law and the­ol­ogy are be­ing con­sid­ered by the Church Law Com­mis­sion and the Doc­trine Com­mis­sion. They

We are be­gin­ning to re­alise that love is love, that peo­ple are made by God as they are, that some peo­ple are gay, some peo­ple are straight, some peo­ple are black, some peo­ple are white. - BISHOP OF WAN­GARATTA, JOHN PARKES

will ad­vise in the full­ness of time what position the na­tional church might take.

“I am tak­ing my own ad­vice as to whether I have the power at law and the proper the­o­log­i­cal, ex­eget­i­cal and hermeneu­ti­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to pro­mul­gate a ser­vice of bless­ing of same sex unions for use within the Dio­cese of Wan­garatta.

“Should I de­ter­mine to pro­ceed in this way, I will force no per­son to act against their con­science.

“Nev­er­the­less, and de­spite the tren­chantly ex­pressed views of some, the ques­tion of same sex at­trac­tion is not a set­tled ques­tion in our church. And we need to deal with it.”

Bishop Parkes’ charge also in­cluded apolo­gies to both the LGBTI com­mu­nity, and to sur­vivors of sex­ual abuse, as well as men­tion of the changes in mo­tion to en­sure the dio­cese com­plies with child safe stan­dards in the wake of the Royal Com­mis­sion into In­sti­tu­tional Re­sponses to Child Sex­ual Abuse.

“Crit­i­cally, the team is work­ing to­wards real, mean­ing­ful change: the sort of change that will pro­vide a safe en­vi­ron­ment for each and ev­ery one of us,” he said.

He said a safe church review au­dit con­ducted in early 2017 was re­vis­ited in March this year, “and it showed the dio­cese has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in im­ple­men­ta­tion against the child safe/safe church stan­dards over the past year”.

PHOTO: Mel Guy

MO­TION OF SUP­PORT: Bishop of Wan­garatta John Parkes said a mo­tion at the week­end’s Dio­cese of Wan­garatta synod to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of clergy pro­vid­ing a bless­ing for same sex unions re­ceived “over­whelm­ing” sup­port.

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