The Bishop of Ballarat, Garry Wetherill, has set out his response to the recent action of his synod in asking him to authorise a rite of blessing for same-sex couples who have entered into a marriage.
Writing in the diocese’s regular “dNews”, he says the following:
A controversial motion, recognising the reality of same gender marriage at law in Australia, asked me to consider preparing liturgical material that would recognise civil same sex marriages. The Bishop’s [sic.] have agreed not to act unilaterally on this matter, and so I will not be promoting such a liturgy at present. It is important to understand that this proposal is not a change in our Church’s doctrine of marriage, but rather a pastoral response to same gender attracted people in our churches who choose to contract a civil marriage. No doubt there will be further discussion about this and other matters concerning human sexuality in the years ahead.
A number of things are worth noting here.
- The Bishops’ Agreement appears to be having its effect in restraining any precipitous actions.
- Wetherill’s claim that “this proposal is not a change in our Church’s doctrine of marriage” will not convince everyone. The motion asked for a liturgy that blessed the same-sex marriage. To bless something is to endorse it as approved of by God. It is difficult to see howow this is not making a statement about our doctrine of marriage.
Attention is now likely to turn to Bishop John Parkes in Wangaratta, currently the most outspoken proponent of changing the approach to marriage. He still has a motion from his own synod to respond to.