Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies has said a move to allow Victorian priests to bless same-sex marriages will “fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”
Last weekend, the Wangaratta Anglican diocese in regional Victoria voted in favour of giving churches the option of blessing same-sex married couples.
The vote was brought on by retiring priest John Parkes. Parkes now plans to bless local priests John Davis and Rob Whalley this month after their civil marriage ceremony.
But Archbishop Davies blasted the “highly regrettable” move. He accused the Wangaratta diocese of defying Anglican orthodoxy.
“It is highly regrettable that clergy and lay people in 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.
“Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church.
“To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law.”
Davies said a similar move by Canadian Anglicans in 2003 started a “tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion.”
“To claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia,” he said.
Bishop says blessing same-sex marriage would not violate church doctrine
But Bishop Parkes earlier said he had sought theological advice and believed blessing the couples’ unions would not violate church doctrine.
“Asking God to bless, sustain, and encourage them in their lives of faithfulness, of love, and of self-service, seems to me to be a good thing to do,” he told ABC News.
The Anglican Church does not permit its priests to perform same-sex marriages.
Meanwhile, the Uniting Church voted to endorse same-sex marriage last July amid conservative pushback.
The church’s national assembly approved two definitions of marriage. One states marriage is between a man and a woman. The other states “between two people”, allowing individual ministers to choose.
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