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Aotearoa, New Zealand, Polynesia: No to same-sex blessings

Aotearoa, New Zealand, Polynesia: No to same-sex blessings

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia opened last Friday in Napier, with planned discussion topics including environmental concerns, childhood poverty, gender-based violence, confirmation – and the blessing of same-sex marriages.

A report prepared by the Way Forward Working Group was specifically liturgical in nature, according to the Episcopal News Service:

The working group say that the proposed new rites of blessing are “additional formularies” rather than doctrinal changes: “It is the view of the majority of the group that the proposed liturgies do not represent a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and are therefore not prohibited by [the Church’s constitution], however the group also recognises that this will be a crucial matter for debate.”

Anglican Taonga reports

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.”



“Today the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia chose unity over justice,” says Rev Helen Jacobi, Vicar at St. Matthew-in-the-City which is in the Diocese of Aukland. From a story posted on

“In my 24 years as a priest I have always been proud of my church. Today I hang my head in shame. We have chosen rules over love, and doctrine over gospel. We have imperiled the mission of the church.

“There were strong voices for change from many parts of the church but not enough.

“At St Matthew-in-the-City we will continue to welcome our LGBTI community and assure them of their place in our church and in the heart of God. We will not abandon them and will continue to work for justice. To them today we express our deep sorrow and seek their forgiveness.”

Additional coverage of Jacobi’s response can be found in Hawke’s Bay Today.

This article has been edited to correct some of the information in our first story. Thanks to our commenters for improving our reporting.


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Father Ron Smith

Thank you, Cynthia, for your kind observations about our small part in the ongoing conversations. Where there’s a will, there’s also a Way Forward,
Pentecost Blessings!

John sandeman

Coercion of concservatives does not need to rise to the pain that LGBT persons have experienced in order to be seen as coercion. Requiring clergy to assent to the doctrine in a prayerbook that includes SSM will mean people will have to leave ministry or be excluded from joining it. The NZ church could see this difficulty. While I respect the strength of your convictions in favour of SSM perhaps you could spare a thought for those who see things differently. Well, one can hope.

David Allen

I don’t recall conservatives that agreed to allow divorced folks with living ex-spouses to remarry over the last 50 years sparing a thought for the conservatives among them who did not agree with that. They went ahead and did as they wished.

My understanding is that the marriage rites approved by TEC’s General Convention are not same gender ceremonies, they are gender neutral ceremonies. OCICBW. The rites can be used for opposite gender or same gender couples. Which is the same thing that the folks in ACANZ&P are doing. If the gender neutral rites end up in a new TEC BCP sometime in the next 25 years and a conservative priest wishes to concentrate on that possible use of the rites as he makes his assent to the prayerbook, that’s on him.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I don’t think we’re understanding each other. Even though TEC has SSM and will someday have it in our BCP, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to do it. Clergy have always been free to decide whether or not to marry a couple, for any reason. My understanding is that that holds for SSM. So in my understanding, no one is ever going to be coerced into doing SSMs. In my diocese, it seems that we have marrying parishes, and probably some that don’t wish to offer SSM. We live with that difference.

Tobias, please jump in if I’m wrong.

I know that there are commentators are spreading “doom and gloom” that priests or bishops will be defrocked for not doing SSM, but that is a projection of fear, it isn’t real.

So priests and congregations pretty much operate according to their conscience. The problem comes with the bishops. We have 7 who dissented (that’s not very many out of our total). They don’t have to allow SSMs in “their” dioceses. However, our General Convention asked them to “make provisions” for their gay couples – like sending them a PDF of the liturgy and recommending parishes outside of “their” diocese to get married in. There’s tension about that, as you can imagine.

I think we’re doing it as well as can be.

I hear your discomfort about the issues surrounding doctrine. Maybe in TEC we are more comfortable with it being messy?

It could be that NZ has gay friendly parishes and not so gay inclusive parishes already, as we did. It could be that passing the “Way Forward” just won’t look that different, from a day to day point of view.

NZ seems to be so well sorted out in so many ways. You’ve got beautifully inclusive language in your Prayer Book. You all seem to have a lot worked out along racial lines. You will find a way. It it’ll probably be a model for the rest of us.

Susannah Clark

If a man does not want to marry another man, he can marry a woman.

If a woman does not want to marry another woman, she can marry a man.

If a priest does not believe in marrying two men or two women, then the priest should be entitled to the conscience not to do so.

If a priest does believe in marrying two men or two women, then the priest should be entitled to the conscience to do so.

Unity in diversity: loving one another, because we are in communion with Jesus Christ, even if we have different views.

No-one is forced to be gay. No-one is forced to be heterosexual. But we should respect the consciences of one another and pray for each other’s flourishing.

The great commandment is love: love and service is what we can have in common, whatever our views on human sexuality. We should seek grace to love one another, and serve our communities, following our sincere consciences, and recognising that different Christians may hold different views.

We should stop trying to dominate each other, or trying to be first. Whose dogma is right is less urgent than who opens their hearts to love: because love fulfils the law and the prophets, and God is love, and wants us to share that love.

christopher seitz

Father Ron–at issue in my remarks here is *what Ezekiel is actually saying* give that to him was attributed a take on Sodom that obviated any concern with sexual behavior.

I am not engaging any discussion about what to make of what he says, for that would require a wider angle of vision.

Might it be possible simply to focus on what was at issue?

Cynthia Katsarelis

Christopher, plenty of our Jewish friends, including rabbis who read Hebrew very well, do not come to the same conclusion as you do about the word “abomination.” And that’s using the same texts. I’m beginning to sense that yours is a singular reading. There is so much in the Old Testament about caring for the widows and the orphans, that I think the Ezekiel reading about Sodom is very much concerned with people who live in want and the responsibility of those who live in plenty. I mean really, it’s okay to not give to the poor as long as your reasons for being greedy don’t involve sex?

As for Sodom, if the crime includes sex then it is rape. So it hardly covers any consensual relationship of any sort. Lot offering up his daughter just adds to the grotesque quality of this reading, and that culture.

Frankly, I think Jesus came to help clear up our confusion about these things. To love God means to love God’s creation, including God’s gay children. The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself means to love all your neighbors. Jesus followed this with the parable of the Good Samaritan, and I presume you know that the Samaritans were hated by the Judeans. Substitute “Samaritan” with “gay man” or “gay woman” (or refugee or African American) and I think we get closer to what Jesus was saying.

David Allen

Sorry to have returned to Café land.

Mr Revd Dr Professor Sir, I’m sure that we can arrange it so that you never have to see your comments darken our pages again! 😛

Prof. Christopher Seitz

Dear Cynthia, I am confident you will find the responses to Ezekiel you desire.

Pentecost blessings. Sorry to have returned to Café land. If I may suggest a good essay on catholic Anglicanism:

Father Ron Smith

Conservatives on the issue of homosexuality cannot hide the fact (to my mind) they are gravely mistaken that their basic argument in this conversation is that they deem the existence of homosexuality to be what some of them will call ‘an abomination’. This misguided thought seems to under-girds all their arguments about the nature of ‘homosexual sin’ – not mainly the act but also the aetiology.

If they could only separate out the commonality of intrinsic sexual-orientation from sexual acts, they might have a better idea of what is ‘sexual sin’. It is that which operates outside of a monogamous covenant relationship, ideally within marriage.

This puts into a proper perspective the nature of sexual promiscuity – which Jesus himself seemed to regard as sinful. This is one reason why Christian Gay couples would like the Church to respect their desire to maintain a faithful, monogamous relationship within marriage.

If the Church has already allowed the provision of heterosexual re-marriage after divorce – thus already breaking the ‘tradition’ of single-partner Marriage for heterosexuals in the Church; what reason would there be to deny what amounts to just another amendment of the ‘tradition’ in order to recognise the faithfulness of a legal Same-Sex Marriage? At least the married state is preferable to the prospect of promiscuity – which we all recognise as the biggest problem for the Church, and for society at large.

Jesus had a lot to say about infidelity in marriage relationships. He did not single out same-sex relationships as worthy of greater penalties. In fact, Jesus didn’t even mention homosexuals – except, perhaps in a passing reference – in his discourse on marriage – to ‘eunuchs’ born that way from their mothers’ womb. (Matthew 19: 12)

The biblical abhorrence of sexual acts was usually reserved for pagan ritual idolatry, especially male prostitution. No doubt institutional patriarchy had a part to play in the biblical judgement of any act involving male subordination.

And as for the account of Sodom & Gomorrah, this has long been attributed to the abuse of hospitality. No account seems to have been taken by the conservatives of the primitive reaction of the Patriarch, who was prepared to sacrifice the virginity of his own daughter to satisfy the lust of the interlopers. (Patriarchal privilege, perhaps?)

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