General Synod - Marriage

Discussion in 'General discussion' started by CRfromQld, May 14, 2022.

  1. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    I suspect the issue of marriage will come up in Synod, especially following a motion on the issue at general Synod.

    The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia has voted on a statement that Marriage [is] the union of a man and a woman.

    Despite being supported 143 to 98 overall the motion was lost on the vote of the bishops.

    The vote was.

    Laity 63 Yes, 47 No
    Clergy 70 Yes, 39 No
    Bishops 10 Yes, 12 No
    The motion was Lost.
     
  2. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    ++ Phillip has addressed this in "220523 Ad Clerum re General Synod.pdf".

    Link here
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2022
  3. Graeme Smyth

    Graeme Smyth New Member

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    that link doesn't appear to work for me. "Google Drive. You need access."
     
  4. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    Updated. try again.
     
  5. Graeme Smyth

    Graeme Smyth New Member

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    no good - sorry Chris, same message.
     
  6. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    ++ Phillip has addressed this in "220523 Ad Clerum re General Synod.pdf". (a different link)
    (the previous link was to Google Drive, this is to my DropBox so I hope it works better)

    Same sex marriage and blessings
    Many anticipated the General Synod with some fear and trembling because of heightened tensions
    over same-sex marriage in both Church and society in recent years.
    In 2017 the Australian Marriage Act 1961 was amended to define ‘marriage’ as ‘the union of 2 people
    to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. Previously ‘marriage’ was defined as
    between ‘one man and one woman’. This change made lawful in Australia the marriage of two persons
    of the same sex. It did not, however, mean such marriages could be solemnised in the Anglican Church
    because in our authorised marriage services marriage continues to be understood to be between one
    man and one woman.

    Following the 2017 amendment to the Marriage Act, in 2019, the Synod of Wangaratta Diocese passed
    a regulation concerning liturgical blessing for two persons married in accordance with the Marriage
    Act 1961. The regulation provided that no minister could be compelled to conduct such a service if to
    do so would offend the minister’s conscience, but where a minister consented to do so the regulation
    required the use of a specified form of service and no other. Given the amended Marriage Act, this
    applied both to marriages of a man and a woman and also to marriages between two persons of the
    same sex.

    In the wake of this action in Wangaratta the Primate referred two questions to the Appellate Tribunal
    asking, first, whether the regulation made by Wangaratta Synod was consistent with the Fundamental
    Declarations and Ruling Principles in our Constitution and, secondly, whether the regulation was validly
    made under the Canon Concerning Services 1992.
    In a closely argued and lengthy determination published in November 2020, by a majority of 5 to 1,
    the Appellate Tribunal ruled that ‘Wangaratta Diocese’s proposed service for the blessing of persons
    married in accordance with the Marriage Act does not entail the solemnisation of marriage, is
    authorised by the Canon Concerning Services 1992; and is not inconsistent with the Fundamental
    Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution of the Church.’ In other words it was lawful in
    the Church.

    This determination evoked strong reactions in various parts of the Church – some very much in favour
    of proceeding with such blessings and some strenuously against. In the face of deep conflict the
    Primate urged restraint in acting on the Tribunal’s decision until the Church had an opportunity to
    consider in General Synod questions raised by the Tribunal’s ruling. As we know the meeting of the
    General Synod was postponed twice, the delay adding to growing tensions and anxieties. The Primate’s
    request was, however, largely, if not entirely, respected.
    When the General Synod finally met in the first week of May this year the Synod was asked to endorse
    two statements prepared by the Standing Committee of Sydney Diocese.
    Statement 1 was entitled ‘Marriage as the union of a man and a woman’. After a lengthy, passionate
    and respectful debate a call for a vote by Houses saw the statement agreed to by a substantial majority
    in the House of Laity (63-47) and the House of Clergy (70-39) and narrowly defeated in the House of
    Bishops (10-12). Requiring a majority in favour in all three Houses to pass, the statement was defeated.
    Some expressed deep consternation, even incredulity and alarm over this outcome. When the
    statement was lost, immediately the mover, the Archbishop of Sydney, sought leave to make a
    ‘personal statement’ to the General Synod. He described the situation of the Anglican Church of
    Australia as ‘perilous’. The Synod agreed to adjourn forthwith for an extended lunchbreak. Feelings
    were running high.

    Some members of the General Synod inferred, wrongly in my view, that the majority of the House of
    Bishops who voted against making the statement were unwilling to uphold the Church’s traditional
    teaching on marriage and even that they had abandoned that teaching. In my view such an inference
    is incorrect and unsustainable, though it has been repeatedly asserted in media reports and other
    communications since the Synod.

    There could be many reasons why a majority of members of the House of Bishops voted against the
    statement. I think it likely that some Bishops objected to the final clause in the proposed statement
    that ‘Any rite that purports to bless a same sex marriage is not in accordance with the teaching of
    Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this Church.’ That assertion appears to be
    tantamount to contradicting the authoritative determination of the Appellate Tribunal, and even
    attempting to overturn it. It is likely, in my view, that a significant number of Bishops would have been
    deeply troubled by the prospect of perceptions of disrespecting the Constitutional authority of the
    Appellate Tribunal in this way.

    Wider concerns were likely to have been in play too. I expect that some Bishops were dissatisfied, even
    resentful, at the process by which the proposed statement came to General Synod. As I understand it,
    the Sydney Standing Committee itself drafted the proposed statement and presented it to the General
    Synod, more or less as a fait accompli, take it or leave it. I’m sure some Bishops felt alienated by and
    even angry about this process. It’s not the way the national Church has been accustomed to working,
    in my experience.

    Thirdly, Bishops might have declined to make the statement because a number of reasonable, fact-
    based amendments moved in attempts to provide a fuller, more nuanced account of marriage as it
    currently stands in the Church were rejected by proponents of the statement. This could have led some
    Bishops to reject the statement overall.

    Finally, there were concerns that making such a statement at this time, would be singularly unhelpful
    to the Church’s mission and pastoral endeavours in Australian society.

    The General Synod later considered a motion, from the opposite perspective, which, among other
    things, proposed firm support for civil same sex marriage, sought to declare it to be a moral good, an
    enrichment of the Christian understanding of marriage and consistent with the scriptures, the creeds
    and Anglican tradition. This was quite remarkable and an initiative that would have been unthinkable
    even 20 years ago. The proponents set out comprehensively what they saw as the biblical, theological
    and spiritual grounds for such an endorsement. Again, the debate was respectful and thoughtful. The
    motion was defeated 95 to 145. However, the fact that 40% of the General Synod voted in favour
    shows how much and how quickly the ground has shifted both in wider society and in the Church.
     
    Ian Russell and Graeme Smyth like this.
  7. Graeme Smyth

    Graeme Smyth New Member

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    This Ad Clerum makes several references to him "saying more at Synod"

    FYI - This is a video of the Presidential address from Gippsland Diocese last weekend. This link should take you to the relevant part regarding blessing of SSM, but if not, it goes from 14:22 to 24:05.
    https://youtu.be/Jm5K5z0BjOg?t=862

    I think it likely that Archbishop Aspinall will give a similar message in this respect.

    The Archbishop from Gippsland makes reference to the General Synod Concerning Services Canon (which has been adopted by our Diocese), s5 as copied below:

    (2) Subject to any regulation made from time to time by the Synod of a diocese, a minister of that diocese may on occasions for which no provision is made use forms of service considered suitable by the minister for those occasions.
    (3) All variations in forms of service and all forms of service used must be reverent and edifying and must not be contrary to or a departure from the doctrine of this Church


    In summary – Given the appellate tribunal decision regarding the meaning of ‘doctrine of the church’ (in part 3 above) and the failure of General Synod to decide otherwise, it would appear that such blessings are considered not unlawful unless Synod resolves otherwise by regulation.
     
  8. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    I only just got around to watching the video. It's interesting that ++Phillip says "that a significant number of Bishops would have been deeply troubled by the prospect of perceptions of disrespecting the Constitutional authority of the Appellate Tribunal in this way." while +Richard notes that "the appellate tribunal also made clear that general synod is the place to draw disciplinary or liturgical lines if it is to have uniformity in the matter of what may or may not be blessed in worship." So debating this matter would not be disrespecting the Constitutional authority of the Appellate Tribunal. Was ++Phillip just making an excuse?

    I think ++Philip's comment "Finally, there were concerns that making such a statement at this time, would be singularly unhelpful
    to the Church’s mission and pastoral endeavours in Australian society." is significant. The church is more interested in appeasing current sentiment than standing on the authority of scripture.

    I think +Richard is being a bit cute saying "given that general synod did not declare a view to the contrary" [of the tribunal decision]. A clear majority of the synod did declare a view to the contrary but it was stymied by a handful of bishops.

    He is happy with with blessing of same sex unions so long as it is reverent and edifying and not contradictory to doctrine, but it is not contradictory to doctrine unless general synod votes thus, and he is one of the bishops with veto power.
     
  9. Graeme Smyth

    Graeme Smyth New Member

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  10. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you or any other lay members have comments on this?
    (I have an opinion but I would like to encourage other members to join the discussion)