bishop-parkes-180x180The Wangaratta Chronicle is today reporting that the Bishop of Wangaratta, John Parkes, has come out in favour of same-sex marriage,

Bishop John Parkes – a former barrister – has told the Chronicle that he believes the country has “grown up” and that the federal government will be bound within a relatively short time to change the Marriage Act to enable people of the same gender to marry.

He admits that the challenge of such a move for religious faiths will be complex – but does not believe that gay marriage will become “a betrayal of the Gospel or the end of the world”.

“As I read the Bible in context, as I read the way that the church has dealt with it and now deals with it, I can find no biblical prohibition,” the bishop said.

The Bishop’s public statement comes at a time when other diocesan bishops who hold revisionists positions on this topic have made their own moves to push the issue forward, not least the decision by Grafton Diocese to have discussions on the matter and the recent appointment by Bishop Kay Goldsworthy of Gippsland of a man in a homosexual relationship as rector of a parish in clear contradiction to the Bishops’ Protocol on the subject.

This latest move is doubly surprising given a public statement [pdf] that Bishop Parkes published less than a week ago on the 29th of August where he sets out parameters (as he understands them, although others will recognise familiar revisionist arguments) for the debate and then adds this paragraph,

I do not seek to impose constraints on the debate, other than the need for respectful conversation. However until the Diocese has come to a view on these matters, contributions to the debate should be made in your private capacity and not in your representative capacity. I would therefore be grateful if you did not use your formal ecclesiastical title when making public comment. The Bishop is the only one to speak for the Diocese of Wangaratta, and I want there to be no mixed message about this.

6 days later the Bishop has spoken. No mixed messages.

The Diocese of Wangaratta is in the Province of Victoria, of which the Metropolitan is the Primate; Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne. This new provocation, on top of the recent actions of Bishop Kay Goldsworthy in Gippsland, will increase pressure on Archbishop Philip to act in some way. I understand that a number of very senior clergy in the Australian church have already made their concerns known, and more are yet to do so.

Comments

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14 comments on “Bishop of Wangaratta Openly Supports Same-Sex Marriage

  1. To be fair, on your reported content, I do not see that the Bishop has publicly backed gay marriages with church blessing as such, simply that he sees no biblical injunction against civil governments enacting such legislations.

    This is a nuanced distinction, and perhaps the Bishop does in fact see a case for church blessed gay marriage, but I dont think he has gone so far down this track just yet.

    Either way, enacting civil laws that contradict sound Christian doctrine at a secular level, or enacting church santioned blessed gay relationships, do not fly for me. They are both repugnant. Both lead the souls of the participants to an eternity away from God, and I cannot bless this nor condone it.

    I fail to see how a Bishop can think for one second gay marriage is good for society as a whole, secular or Church sanctioned, and for this, the Bishop needs to re-think his position on this, or else resign.

    • hi Bruce.

      Yes, the thought did occur to me. But let’s all recognise this for exactly what it is. A public proclamation on the subject that lends itself to be understand as a clear endorsement. And that on the heels of asking his diocese not to make public proclamations. And that in a climate where episcopal collegiality on this subject is already under some severe strain.

  2. Diocese of Wangaratta. Once a bastion of Anglo-Catholicism. The robust, traditional, old school church kind. How did liberal Catholicism sneak in?

  3. Just commenting on one aspect of this story. I am intrigued by the line, “contributions to the debate should be made in your private capacity and not in your representative capacity. I would therefore be grateful if you did not use your formal ecclesiastical title when making public comment.”

    I have in front of me the current issue of the Inner West Courier (Tuesday 1 September), letters page (p.37). There is a letter commenting on the recent issues at Burwood Girls High School. Here’s a couple of quotes to give you the flavour: “I have had letters from school children protesting at the way school communities are given the opposite message about inclusion and an aggressive rebuttal of marriage equality themes particularly through church leaders and the influence of conservative Christian traditions” and “Those with their guns out for the educational heroes at Burwood High are pushing their own barrows sometimes fatally over the lives of children.”

    The letter is signed “Archdeacon Peter Macleod-Miller, Archdeacon of Albury and the Hume”

    That sounds very much like a formal ecclesiastical title to me. Is this a representative statement from a leading clergyman in the Diocese of Wangaratta?

  4. Yes there is nothing wrong with your hearing
    The bishop is attempting to protect his clergy from cranks
    But the bishop will not have to enter the battle alone
    I have come to australia particularly and only to assist in bringing the good news to people in my region as part of the ministry leadership of the diocese
    In mental Heath ,youth suicide indigenous recognition ,affirmation of divorcees and support of the homeless I have not hidden from the challenge of bringing the message of love and acceptance for all ,this us merely the most natural addition to that conversation ,internationally unremarkable ,shame it it is such news ,in australia some people in the world still support slavery and the subjection of women ,hope they catch up eventually ,ultimately it will be as novel as Catholics and non Catholics getting together ,at one time impossible

    • Here we go again…. the usual attempt by liberal clergy to suggest that advocating for emancipating slaves, women’s rights, and same-sex marriage is one and the same. False equivalence strikes again.

      I would suggest reading “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals” by William Webb to get a grip on the Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic… Does Scripture have a trajectory since the fall of desiring the abolishment of slavery? – Yes. Of seeing men and women as equal human beings? – Yes. Of regarding homosexual relationships as valid? – Never.

      You simply cannot have a high view of Scripture and determine that same-sex marriage is ‘holy’ and desirable. Never.

    • Thanks for coming and commenting, Peter.

      I fear you may have missed the point of Gilbert’s comment which is that despite the Bishop asking clergy in the diocese to not use formal titles when speaking on this topic, in order to avoid any appearance that someone is speaking on behalf of the diocese (which the BIshop claims is his perogative alone), and to avoid unnecessary dissension, you wrote a letter to the newspaper where you both took a clear position publicly and then signed off with your official title.

      I’m also interested that the Bishop appears to want everyone to dial down the rhetoric but your comment here refers to those you disagree with as “cranks” and speaks of the discussion as a “battle”. I’m not sure how that meets the Bishop’s request. Perhaps you could elaborate?

    • Peter,

      You write “I have not hidden from the challenge of bringing the message of love and acceptance for all” – you are absolutely right to not hide from the challenge of bringing the message of the love and acceptance that God offers in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. As an fellow Anglican Priest I too share this conviction with you.
      But may I ask you, what about the challenge of repentance?

      Surely the Holy Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John make it clear the message of Christ is not merely “Come as you”, but “Come as you are and go as Jesus says”.

      Your thoughts?

      Grace and peace
      Joshua

  5. So Muriel Porter knows of other Bishops in support of SSM and advocates for them speaking up. I’m all ears but the silence is deafening.

  6. Geoff Poliness
    March 4′ 2016 at 11.25pm

    The comments in the main seem to debate either the theological/biblical matter of samesex marriage. I wonder if the Bishop is really saying that the state of play at the moment is for lay and ordained to seriously consider the matter in the light of the present orientation of the Australian cultural development on the matter. I don’t think the Bishop would be too impress with his clergy taking an impartial position or to fall silent when expounding the good news. I suspect he is not blind to the fact that there will be some considerable attention given to the matter in the future gatherings of the courts of the church. His adv
    Drum seemed to me that he wanted to take an orderly approach within the diocese.

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