Newcastle Anglican Bishop Peter Stuart is bringing on a vote on whether to allow official blessings of same-sex marriages in his diocese.
A regional Victorian diocese voted to approve the blessings in September. Now the Newcastle Anglican diocese will vote on a similar bid.
The Newcastle bill would allow clergy to bless “persons married according to the Marriage Act” if they wish to.
The synod of Newcastle diocese in regional New South Wales will debate a bill when it meets on October 25 and 26.
A separate bill to go before the Synod would remove any disciplinary processes for clergy who bless a same-sex marriage.
“There is no doubt that these Private Members’ Bills will cause anguish to some in the diocesan community, as well as being a cause of celebration for others,” Bishop of Newcastle Dr Peter Stuart wrote to the diocese.
The Anglican Church does not permit same-sex marriages.
But in August, the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta voted 67-18 to allow blessings of married same-sex couples.
If the Newcastle bill passes, Bishop Stuart said he would expect and welcome their referral to the Appellate Tribunal for a final decision, as in Wangaratta.
This November is the two year anniversary of the legalisation of marriage equality in Australia.
Wangaratta blessing of two Anglican priests’ marriage delayed
Wangaratta Anglican Bishop John Parkes wanted to bless two priests’ recent same-sex marriage in his church.
But Australia’s top Anglican, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, intervened. He 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.
But senior Anglicans were furious about the vote.
Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies claimed allowing the same-sex blessings would defy Anglican orthodoxy and “fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”
But last July, the Uniting Church in Australia voted to endorse same-sex marriage. The church allows individual ministers to choose whether or not to officiate same-sex marriages.
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