The Diocese of Brisbane’s 2018 Synod will be held 5-7 October and their business paper [pdf] has been published. Of particular interest is motion 15.
15. Civil Marriage & Blessings
The Very Rev’d Peter Catt to move; tba seconding:
“That this Synod:
notes that it has previously supported and encouraged the Social Responsibilities Committee in the use of talking circles to enable members of the Diocese to discuss and explore the shape and character of marriage.
notes that the talking circle processes demonstrated:
that members of the Diocese hold a variety of views about the character of Christian marriage.
that there is a high level of support for the church to have the capacity to celebrate marriage for and with all who seek it.
a. notes that there is pastoral value in providing a blessing to those whose marriages have been solemnised by a civil celebrant.
b. requests the Archbishop to explore ways for those communities that wish to offer it to offer a blessing for all couples who seek a blessing of their marriage.”
While the motion is carefully worded so as not to directly mention same-sex marriages, there is little doubt about the intent lying behind it. Readers of davidould.net will remember that Dean Peter Catt, currently the sole mover of this motion, recently issued a call for the church to bless same-sex marriages.
As we noted at the time, such a move pushes directly against the consistent position of the General Synod of Australia which last year censured the Scottish Episcopal Church for a similar move to bless same-sex unions as “contrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ”.
At their 2017 synod, the Diocese of Brisbane refused to affirm the church’s doctrine of marriage which the General Synod had consistently affirmed. It is now clear that the Dean seeks to continue to encourage synod to act unilaterally since they cannot gain agreement from the wider Australian church.
Archbishop Aspinall of Brisbane was also party to an agreement by the House of Bishops in Australia not to act unilaterally on this topic. In that agreement Aspinall, and others, committed to (my emphasis)
…act within the framework of the Constitution and Canons of this Church, and to encourage those under their episcopal oversight to do so.
Bishops who were at that meeting have told davidould.net that the clear understanding of those present was that the phrase “within the framework of the Constitution and Canons of this Church” was that any change in practice on marriage should be agreed by the General Synod.
It remains to be seen how Archbishop Aspinall will encourage the clergy in his diocese, let alone the upcoming synod, to act consistently with the commitment that he made to and with the other bishops.