Bishops could authorise individual priests to offer same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, if a new compromise proposal is taken up.
A working group was set up after the Church’s last General Synod debate about church blessings for gay marriages solemnised in civil ceremonies foundered amid theological differences between the Maori and Polynesian parts of the Church (which backed the reforms), and the European-origin dioceses (which were divided) (News, 20 May 2016).
The small group of one bishop, two priests, and three lay people from all three groupings, or tikangas, of the Church has now reported back. It recommends that the formularies of the Church remain unchanged, but that diocesan bishops be permitted to “authorise individual clergy within their ministry units to conduct services blessing same-gender relationships”.
Those who object to same-sex relationships on theological grounds should have their convictions “respected and protected”, and there must be “immunity from complaint” for any bishop or priest who decided to conduct, or not to conduct, a blessing….