Following on from the story a few weeks ago that the Perth Synod had voted overwhelmingly in favour of a pro-same-sex marriage motion but had been blocked by Archbishop Roger Herft, comes confirmation of what was expected – that the Provincial Council of the West of Australia has blocked the motion.

The Anglican Church’s Provincial Council of Western Australia today voted unanimously in each of its three houses of Laity, Clergy and Bishops against adopting the resolution on human sexuality passed by the Synod of the Diocese of Perth in October 2013.

The motion:

To adopt the following resolution brought to Provincial Council by the Diocese of Perth for a determination subsequent to the Archbishop of Perth dissenting to this resolution:

That this Synod

1. recognises diversity within the Diocese of Perth, both in our sexual identities and in our theologies of human sexuality;

2. notes the support from many within the Anglican Church for committed same-sex couples being able to register their relationship as ‘civil unions’ in Australia; and

3. acknowledges that legal recognition of committed same-sex relationships may coexist with legal recognition of marriage between a man and a woman.

was unanimously lost in each of the houses of Laity, Clergy and Bishops pursuant to a vote under section 11(6) of The Constitution Act of the Diocese of Perth 1871.

Members of Provincial Council from the three WA Dioceses of Bunbury, North West Australia and Perth discussed the resolution in light of the desire of the Diocese of Perth’s Synod to be welcoming to gay and lesbian people.

The Provincial Council’s decision was based on the opinion that the resolution passed by the Diocese of Perth was capable of being interpreted as being contrary to the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Anglican Church of Australia.

Couple of things for you.

  1. This was the expected outcome. Roger Herft was always going to vote no and Gary Nelson, Bishop of NorthWest Australia (largest geographical diocese in the world!) is a conservative who was also clearly going to vote against.
  2. We should note, however, that the decision was unanimous. The council is made up of 1 bishop, 1 clergy and 1 lay member from each of the 3 dioceses. They all voted against. That doesn’t mean that they all agreed but it does show us that nobody wanted to kick up a fuss at the moment.

edit:

I’m very grateful for a member of the council clarifying to me the makeup. The correct membership of the council is

  • The Metropolitan
  • Other Diocesan Bishops (ie Bunbury and North West)
  • Secretaries of each Diocese
  • Lay Trustees of the Province (all ex officio)
  • two Clergy and two lay reps from each diocese.

The reality is that this isn’t going away. On the contrary. I hear there is every expectation that something about homosexuality will be proposed at next year’s General Synod, and we should assume an even stronger motion will go up in Perth next year too. And who knows what others around Australia will try and do in their synods.

And, looming massive in the wing mirror is the consecration of a bishop who has openly advocated the ordination of homosexuals in same-sex relationships.

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