A group of Melbourne Anglicans have said a push by a bishop to bless same-sex marriages would strain church unity “to breaking point.”
Bishop Parkes of the Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta will put the proposal to his synod at the end of the month. He wants to be allowed permission to bless same-sex couples who are already married.
Parkes, who is retiring, told ABC News blessing married same-sex couples was “not unreasonable” and it would not violate church doctrine.
“This has been a live issue in our church for a long time. Not only in the Anglican Church of Australia, but also in the Anglican community worldwide,” he said.
“We’ve been frozen on the issue of same-sex couples now for many years — 25 years or more. If somebody doesn’t do something we’ll continue to be frozen.
“The people who really suffer of course are LGBTQIA people, and particularly young people.”
Bishop Parkes said he was prepared to face disciplinary action and wanted to “break the deadlock” on the issue.
Blessing same-sex couples ‘would strain church to breaking point’
But Kimberly Smith, president of Anglican group New Cranmer Society, wrote in an open letter it would go against what the church agreed to nationally at its General Synod.
Last year the Anglican Church maintained that marriage is a “lifelong union between a man and a woman”.
“We have urged the bishop and his synod not to proceed with this divisive course of action,” Smith said.
“We recognise that the topic of marriage is a difficult one for our national church.
“But there has been agreement amongst us to come to a decision together.”
Smith wrote that blessing same-sex couples would be contrary to the teaching of the scriptures. Bishop Parkes disagrees.
“Out of concern for the truth of Christ, and in order to preserve the unity of the church, we plead with you in the name of Jesus Christ not to take this course, which would strain the fellowship between us to breaking point.”
A vote will be held when the synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta meets on August 30 and 31.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, said “minds will differ” on the proposal.
If the synod approves the motion, it would be referred to the Appellate Tribunal for a decision, he said.
Anglicans trail behind Uniting Church in endorsing same-sex marriages
Last September, the Uniting Church became the first major Australian Christian denomination to endorse same-sex marriages.
The church approved two definitions of marriage – one between a man and a woman, and another between two people – allowing Ministers to choose.
A bid to undo the decision and send it to another vote failed to garner enough support in January.
As recently as May, it was reported conservative factions within the church were still pushing for the church’s same-sex marriage endorsement to be scrapped.
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