Anglican leader intervenes to delay blessing of gay priests’ marriage


anglican church gay priests john david rob whalley john parkes victoria wangaratta
Photo: Facebook

Two gay Anglican priests who married this week won’t have their union officially blessed in a Victorian church following a legal challenge.

Priests John Davis and Rob Whalley (pictured above) married in a civil ceremony on Tuesday. Wangaratta Anglican Bishop John Parkes previously announced he planned to bless the couple’s relationship in his regional church.

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The Anglican Church does not permit same-sex marriages but in August, the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta voted 67-18 to allow the blessing of married same-sex couples in churches.

But Australia’s top Anglican, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, has intervened. He’s referred the plan to the church’s appellate tribunal for a final decision.

The tribunal will consider whether the blessings of couples married under civil law in churches compromises the Anglican Church’s constitution.

Bishop Parkes told the Border Mail he won’t go against the Archbishop Freier’s request to delay the blessing.

“The convention is we respect the institution of the Church,” he said.

“Although, we won’t wait forever. My advice is that this is legitimate and lawful.

“Unless the Appellate Tribunal finds that it isn’t, then what we have at the moment is a delay rather than a backtrack.”

Ceremony for the married gay priests will still go ahead

Bishop Parkes, who is retiring, said he won’t proceed with the blessing if the Church finds it violates church law.

But he described critics’ arguments the blessings “threaten” the church as “nonsense”.

“They seem incapable of understanding there’s a fundamental difference between blessing an institution and blessing people,” he said.

“If the tribunal decides, as my argument will be, that we have power to do what we’re doing then we’ll open the doors of the cathedral.

“Anybody who wants to have their marriage blessed can come along.”

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Father John Davis and Father Rob Whalley met two decades ago in California. The couple married at a small ceremony in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Bishop Parkes said he will still conduct a ceremony for Davis and Whalley this Saturday, but without the official blessing.

Senior Anglicans furious at same-sex marriage plans

Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies was one of the most vocal critics against the blessing of the same-sex marriages.

He said the move would “fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.” Davies accused the Wangaratta diocese of defying Anglican orthodoxy.

“It is highly regrettable that … the Diocese of Wangaratta have chosen to follow their Bishop rather than the clear words of Scripture concerning God’s design for human sexuality,” he said.

“The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria. Nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise.”

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