Sydney clergy urged to continue as marriage celebrants

09 October 2015

iSTOCK

ANGLICAN clergy should continue to act as authorised marriage celebrants, even if the Australian Marriage Act is amended to allow the marriage of same-sex couples, says a report coming to Sydney diocese’s annual synod, which begins next week.

The report, brought by the diocese’s Standing Committee, suggests that if the Anglican Church withdrew from operating under the Marriage Act, it could be “read as petulance, or a retreat from society”. The overall impact would be “negative for our Christian witness”. But individual clergy troubled by their conscience, and after consulting their parish, should be free to withdraw from performing marriages, the report says.

The report goes on to say, however, that if changes to the Marriage Act were to compel members of the clergy to marry same-sex couples, “clergy would realistically have no option but to withdraw as authorised celebrants, and be content to offer other forms of Christian wedding celebrations or blessings for those already officially married.”

The current federal government stance is that same-sex marriage will not be legislated until a plebiscite is held to discern views. This is not likely to take place until after the next federal election, which is scheduled for late next year.

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