Even as his church claims that it “welcomes all people,” Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney is noisily announcing that, as far as he’s concerned, the blessing of same-sex unions is unwelcome.
Davies’ comments come after the Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta in Victoria voted last year to allow clergy to bless couples who were already married. That’s right — priests can bless church buildings, homes, pets, breweries, gravesites, and now they can even bless legally married same-sex couples. How special.
The vote resulted in an appeal by church leaders to the Appellate Tribunal, the highest ecclesiastical court in the church. In a November 11 ruling, the court ruled 5-1 that scripture does not forbid offering such blessings, further adding that the “blessing of same-sex marriages does not necessarily involve denial of God.”
Davies responded, “The teaching of the Bible, and therefore of the Anglican Church, was that the sexual union of two persons of the same gender was sin,” adding that the decision is “hard to fathom, as it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible” and “undermines the clear teaching of Scripture and thereby dishonours God.”
The matter is set to go before the church’s synod, or parliament, in 2021.
Meanwhile, retired bishop John Parkes, who pushed through the Wangaratta decision and blessed two married same-gender priests in his diocese before retirement, weighed in. He noted that some dioceses, Sydney included, take a very literal approach to scripture, while others take the approach that the paramount theological issue is the all-inclusive love of God.
Some observers believe that Davies is attempting to foment a break in the church, noting that the Wangaratta case does not permit marrying same-sex couples, even as other provinces in the Anglican Communion, notably the United States, the UK, and parts of Canada, already permit same-sex marriage.