BLESSINGS REPORT ON HOLD
‘A Way Forward’ on same-sex blessings has been tabled until the 2018 General Synod.
TAONGA NEWS | 12 MAY 2016 | 1 COMMENT
The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has decided to table its ‘A Way Forward’ report on blessings of same-sex couples until General Synod 2018, “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time.
Archbishop Brown Turei, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua will appoint a working group to establish a structure that allows both those who can and cannot support the blessing of same-sex relationships to remain within the church with integrity.
The three archbishops made this statement today:
“We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected.
“But we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”
I may not be the only priest in our Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia to feel let down by the decision, announced today at General Synod in Napier, to postpone the prospect of allowing for the Blessing of Same-Sex Couples in our churches. This could be put down to what has become known in ecclesiastical circles as ‘Anglican Fudge’
No doubt, the fact that the wording of the proposed legislation was cumbersome – if not clumsily framed (for instance: incorporating the Church Blessing of both heterosexual and homosexual civilly married couples in the same measure); but with time allowed at Synod for a better worded Motion (than Motion 30, the original), one could have hoped that there had been enough time for both opponents and supporters to address their differences and get on with the appropriate safeguards for both parties in Synod
However, it would seem that representatives from at least two dioceses – Christchurch and Nelson (both conservative, by and large) – were insistent that there should not be any substantive provision made for the blessing of Same-Sex Unions in the meantime. The only ‘way forward’ for the conservatives in Synod seems to have been to delay any such measure till at least the next Meeting of the General Synod in 2018. (One could quote the old adage: “Justice delayed is justice denied”).
Considering the hopes that had been built up in the minds of those interested in going forward with the Measure proposed at the last General Synod in 2014 – to find a ‘Way Forward’ for the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions; this delaying process must be accounted as a grace disappointment with the processes of Church Government that seems, always to process change at the pace of its slowest (read conservative) members.
It could be that the majority of Church-goers, who have come to accept the situation of legalized Same-Sex Marriage in the civil realm, are perhaps wondering why the Church is holding back from sharing the joy that this openness to a significant minority has given to the friends and families of such couples in our church. However, it would seem that the relics of a one-time culture of sexism and homophobia will take longer to be eradicated in our Church – at least to the degree to which the Primates of the Anglican Communion committed themselves in their recent meeting in Canterbury.
After all, our Church is not being asked to actually ‘marry’ the couples concerned – only to offer a Church Blessing to those in our own congregations who have been legally and civilly married out in the real world.
My question is: Is this how Christ would have treated them?
Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand