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Wangaratta diocese to vote on same-sex blessings

23 August 2019

The synod of the rural diocese in Victoria, Australia, will vote at the end of this month

THE synod of the rural diocese of Wangaratta, in Victoria, will vote on a service for the blessing of same-sex marriages when it meets at the end of this month. The Bishop, the Rt Revd John Parkes, said that, if the synod agreed, he intended to use the service before the end of the year, when he is due to retire.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, said that, if the synod agreed with the Bishop’s proposal, he would refer the matter to the Church’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal. “This is a significant matter for the national Church, and, on my present advice, would likely give rise to a question under the Constitution on which minds will differ,” he has written.

Bishop Parkes said that he had been “quite clear” about his intention with his episcopal colleagues for some time. He had taken “extensive advice” from his canon theologian and legal advisers, who had told him that he would not be in breach of his oath to uphold the constitution and canons of the Anglican Church of Australia.

He continued: “I take the view that we have been talking about this now for 20 years or more, and the people who really suffer out of this are the LGBTIQA community, and I think enough is enough.”

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has co-signed a letter to the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, urging rejection of legislation to decriminalise abortion in the state. The legislation would bring New South Wales into line with other Australian states. The other signatories included the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Revd Anthony Fisher, and the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Archbishop Makarios.

After the letter, and the raising of concerns by some conservative MPs, the introduction of the Bill was delayed until next month.

The Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Peter Stuart, wrote to parliamentarians to “support the overarching proposal” of the Bill, however. “The healthcare regulatory framework is a better place for governing the complex decision-making associated with pregnancy and matters associated with conscience,” he told them.

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