The Diocese of Ballarat had it’s synod this past weekend and, unlike other dioceses in Australia, chose to pass a controversial motion supporting the blessing of same-sex marriages. The full text of the motion (which was passed unamended) was:
That recognising the good work completed by last year’s Synod on the topic of same-sex marriage, we ask that this Synod:
a) Affirms that all people are accorded equal dignity and are created in the image and likeness of God, regardless of their sexuality or gender;
b) Acknowledges the reality of the recent change in Australian marriage law to include same-sex couples;
c) Commends the pastoral value of a Form of Blessing of a Marriage for optional use within the Diocese of Ballarat alongside, or in addition to, a secular wedding conducted by a civil celebrant and;
d) Asks the Bishop of Ballarat to authorise such a liturgy as soon as practicable.
davidould.net understands that, as in other dioceses, a motion that the motion be “not put” was presented to the diocese. The President (Bishop Garry Weatherill) questioned whether the “not put” motion could be presented but allowed it to be considered whereupon it was soundly defeated on the voices.
In his Presidential Address at the opening of Synod Bishop Weatherill, who is widely acknowledged to be in favour of the revising the church’s doctrine of marriage to include same-sex relationships, said,
The fact of our birth means that we have a vested interest in sex, from both a personal and a social perspective. But I am never quite sure why the Church is so interested in regulating sexual activity. The Scriptures are far more focused on justice, hospitality and what we do with our money, than what sexual activities we engage in. This is not to trivialise such an important part of being human, but I wonder if the whole of western culture has become over sexualised and, subsequently, unhealthily prurient.
Nevertheless the synod decided to indulge that very same prurient call of western culture that the Bishop identified and in so doing now places him in a difficult position. It has asked him to authorise a liturgy “as soon as practicable” (something he has indicated he may yet do) but authorisation would set him against the vast majority of the Anglican Church of Australia, not to mention his fellow bishops.