Judicial Committee Rules on Motion 30
22 Apr 2015
In September 2014 three applicants applied to the Judicial Committee of the Church, asking for three questions to be answered in the matter of Motion 30 passed by the General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui held at Waitangi in May 2014:
1. Is any form of recognition of same-gender relationships in public worship unconstitutional?
2. Is any form of blessing of same-gender relationships in public worship unconstitutional?
3. Is clause 4 of Motion 30 unconstitutional in whole or part?
The Judicial Committee met on 2 March 2015 and gave an oral decision that has been followed by written reasons on 18 April 2015. Two reports are attached: the one from the Judicial Committee, and the other from Mr Jeremy Johnson, Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese of Christchurch, that he made to Standing Committee following his submission on behalf of the Diocese of Christchurch. The Committee noted: “In particularly succinct and helpful submissions presented by Mr J Johnson, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Christchurch took the position that this Committee lacked jurisdiction to determine the Application”.
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A very clear decision was made at a Judicial Committee hearing recently to dismiss the legal challenge made by a small group of objectors to the passage of Motion 30 at the last Meeting of the General Synod of ACANZP.
The substance of Motion 30 touched upon the matter of the attitude of our Church in Aotearoa/new Zealand and Polynesia towards the possible authorisation of Same-Sex Relationships recognition, that obviously did not find acceptance by the Appellants – on the grounds of such a consideration being unconstitutional and in conflict with existing Church Doctrine and Tradition. The mistake made by the Appellants was to think that the Judicial Committee had the right to determine the outcome of the substance of the Appeal.
Our own Christchurch Diocesan Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Jeremy Johnson – on behalf of our Diocesan Standing Committee – presented arguments that only General Synod itself could determine the legal standing of Motion 30 as being constitutional, or not – and the application of the objectors was ultimately dismissed.
This makes clear that objections to the actions of General Synod cannot be varied by any authority other than that of General Synod itself (or a body appointed by General Synod to carry out that specific purpose). Any attempt to undermine the authority of General Synod needed to be clearly resisted, as was surely right and proper in this circumstance.