The Diocese of Wangaratta, at it’s recent synod, passed the following motion,
That this Synod:
a) acknowledges the widespread national and local support for the recent changes to Australian marriage laws, to include same-sex couples
b) commends the pastoral value of the Bishop authorising a Form of Blessing for optional use in the Diocese of Wangaratta alongside, or in addition to, a wedding conducted by a civil celebrant, and
c) requests that the Bishop of Wangaratta ensure opportunity for the clergy and laity of the Diocese to engage in further discussion as part of the process leading to the potential Diocesan provision for blessing of civil marriages.
Moved: Archdeacon Clarence Bester
Seconded: Ven Dr John Davis
The motion was passed overwhelmingly on the voices. A number of observations can immediately be made:
- The motion comes from the leadership of the diocese, presented by an Archdeacon and the former Vicar General of the Diocese.
- The sentiment of the motion is in clear contradiction to a number of motions at the 2017 General Synod and position established in the more recent Bishops’ Agreement which Bishop Parkes of Wangaratta agreed to.
Readers of davidould.net may remember Dr Davis’ attempt last year to argue that our position on marriage is simply a matter of canon law and therefore disputable. They will also be aware of Bishop Parkes’ repeated public statements in favour of same-sex marriage. He has wholeheartedly supported the synod’s move, as reported in the Wangaratta Chronicle saying he is “proud of the synod”. In his presidential address he stated:
I am taking my own advice as to whether I have the power at law and the proper theological, exegetical and hermeneutical justification to promulgate a service of same sex unions for use within the Diocese of Wangaratta
Bishop Parkes gave his address prior to the motion being debated and it clearly gave it a green light. It is hard to see his actions here as anything other than a direct challenge to the position that the Anglican Church of Australia has established both at a national synodical level and also amongst his fellow bishops. It also adds more pressure upon the leadership of the Australian Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne, who is Metropolitan of the Province of Victoria where the Diocese of Wangaratta is located.