TWO retired male clergy from the regional Victorian diocese of Wangaratta have had their civil marriage blessed, using the liturgy cleared recently by the Anglican Church of Australia’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal (News, 13 November). The blessing, presided over by the retired Bishop of Wangaratta, the Rt Revd John Parkes, in a low-key ceremony in a small country church, is believed to be the first time at which the liturgy has been used.
The Revd Dr John Davis and the Revd Robert Whalley, who have been partners for more than 20 years, were married in Melbourne in September last year under the Australian Government legislation amended to permit same-sex marriage.
Their marriage was to be blessed a few days later, after the passing of the blessing liturgy by the Wangaratta synod. But the blessing was delayed until the Tribunal brought down its decision; last month, the Tribunal announced its majority decision that the liturgy was not inconsistent with the Church’s Constitution, or Canon Law.
The Standing Committee in Sydney diocese, however, has carried a resolution “entirely” rejecting the Tribunal decision. The resolution says: “We stand with brothers and sisters all over the world who have resisted the attempt to bless what God does not bless and to ignore the teaching of Scripture on the extreme danger of the behaviour endorsed by the proposed services of blessing.
“We are deeply saddened that the delivery of this opinion further disturbs the hard-won unity of the church.”