A DECISION on the blessing of same-sex couples has been delayed by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
Last week, the Maori and Polynesia tikanga gave their assent to the recommendations of the report A Way Forward, which was received with thanksgiving at the Church’s General Synod (News, 13 May). But they changed course after it became clear that Tikanga Pakeha (European) remained divided.
The Synod tabled the report for discussion at the General Synod in 2018. The three Archbishops of the Church will be appointing a working group to establish a structure that allows both those who can, and those who cannot, support the blessing of same-sex relationships to remain within the Church. For a measure to be passed by the General Synod, it must receive the support of all three orders, and all three tikanga.
After presenting the Maori tikanga’s assent to the motion, the Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau, the Rt Revd Kito Pikaahu, asked for “assurance that a way forward will actually happen”.
The Archbishop of New Zealand, the Most Revd Philip Richardson, said: “We will not allow this to continue to drift on. We must find a decision, which in the end we are bound to, as we are bound to each other.”
Archdeacon Sepiuta Hala’api’api (Polynesia) said that young people questioned the amount of time expended on the issue: “They are more concerned about the environment, and the problems we face in the Pacific.”
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Bishop of Polynesia, the Most Revd Dr Winston Halapua, gave a presentation on the impact of climate change on the Pacific that included an account of Cyclone Winston, “the worst cyclone we have ever seen in Fiji”. Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi (Polynesia) told the Synod that seven Pacific islands had been lost since the Paris summit on climate change.
“It is time for us to tack, like the sailing waka [canoe], from sympathy and inaction to partnership and action,” he said.
The Synod carried a motion to strengthen the Church’s response to natural disasters in the Pacific Islands.