A challenge has been filed with the Judicial Committee of the ACANZP over the constitutionality of a Motion adopted by last year’s meeting of General Synod that permitted clergy to bless civil same-sex unions.
A legal challenge has been filed with the Judicial Committee of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia over the constitutionality of a Motion adopted by last year’s meeting of General Synod that permitted clergy to bless civil same-sex unions. Motion 30 adopted by the 62nd General Synod on 14 May 2014 created a working group tasked with creating a “process and structure” that would allow same-sex blessings while also upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage. The motion’s preamble states the New Zealand church upholds the traditional understanding of marriage and acknowledges the church does not now permit same-sex blessings or the ordination of persons in such relationships. However, Clause 4 of the Motion allows clergy to offer public blessings of same-sex relationships, with the approval of the bishop and parish vestry. The challenge has been brought because of the “deep concern that this fourth clause is not only unconstitutional but it also pre-empts the work of the working group and potentially signals the direction the working group may head in,” said a statement posted on the website of the Latimer Fellowship. The submission submitted by the Ven. Tim Mora, the Rev. Chris Tims and Mr. Chris Barfoot notes that the Church’s Constitution states “No doctrines which are repugnant to the Doctrines and Sacraments of Christ as held and maintained by this Church shall be advocated or inculcated by any person acknowledging the authority of General Synod.” As the motion concedes that same-sex blessings are now contrary to the doctrines of the church, allowing clergy to perform same-sex blessings without having first changed the constitution is a violation of the constitution and repugnant to the plain meaning of Scripture. The committee is expected to take up the challenge at its next regular meeting on 2 March 2015.