In his first public response to the story that davidould.net broke this week that 3 Anglican clergy in Melbourne participated in the liturgical celebration of a same-sex wedding, the Archbishop of Melbourne has issued the following ad clerum:
davidould.net has received no direct response yet from the Diocese since reaching out for comment last Friday, 3 days in advance of publishing the story.
In his letter Archbishop Freier states,
I have received assurances from one of the clergy that none of the three was involved in the wedding service itself, though they did attend. The service took place in the Community Church of St Mark in Clifton Hill, a Baptist Church, and the celebrant was a minister of another denomination. One of the Anglican clergy presided at the Eucharist later, and the other two offered Eucharistic prayers, but none officiated in any way in the marriage service. They did enter the church in the procession.
The assurances that Archbishop Freier received (via an assistant bishop who has met with at least one of the clergy involved) directly contradict the information davidould.net has received from sources at the service; specifically that Rev. David John Moore “conducted the marriage”. The 3 clergy involved did far more than simply “attend”.
It is uncertain whether this response from Freier will satisfy the more conservative members of the diocese. More than one correspondent to davidould.net has described what happened as “pharisaical”, i.e. a deliberate attempt to circumvent the restrictions on clergy by keeping the rules (i.e. not being the official celebrant) while at the same time giving every sense of full liturgical participation. Freier’s response provides no sanction of any form for the 3 Anglican clergy who participated and therefore holds open the possibility that similar events will occur in the future. Perhaps more liberal-minded clergy will now be emboldened to similarly participate in future weddings since Freier’s ad clerum appears to be establish a precedent that there will be no repurcussions.
davidould.net also imagines a vicar who wishes to pursue diaconal or lay administration having a deacon, lay leader or even the entire congregation recite the Prayer of Consecration at a Communion service at the same time as the President does so from the Table and even standing there with him; technically, not a breach of the rules against diaconal/lay administration (since it can always be argued that the President was reading the prayer) but a clear attempt to circumvent their intent and spirit. What would be the consistent response of Diocesan leadership under such circumstances?