Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Australian bishop backs same-sex marriage

The Bishop of Wangaratta in the Anglican Church of Australia has broken ranks with his episcopal colleagues and offered his support for same-sex civil marriages. In an interview published on 4 Sep 2015 the Rt. Rev. John Parkes told the Wangaratta Chronicle he supported the campaign to permit same-sex marriage. “As I read the Bible in context, as I read the way that the church has dealt with it and now deals with it, I can find no biblical prohibition,” the bishop said adding he did not believe it was “a betrayal of the Gospel or the end of the world”. The Rev David Ould, a well known commentator on the Australian church scene, noted the bishop’s comments come hard on the heels of a pastoral letter to the diocese asking the clergy to be reticient in voicing their views on gay marriage in light of the political debate underway. On 29 Aug 2015 Mr. Ould cited Bishop Parkes as saying: “I do not seek to impose constraints on the debate, other than the need for respectful conversation. However until the Diocese has come to a view on these matters, contributions to the debate should be made in your private capacity and not in your representative capacity. I would therefore be grateful if you did not use your formal ecclesiastical title when making public comment. The Bishop is the only one to speak for the Diocese of Wangaratta, and I want there to be no mixed message about this.” A one-time bastion of traditional Anglo-Catholicism, in recent years the diocese has moved to the Affirming Catholic stance on the issue of women clergy and homosexuality. Last year the Australian bishops issued a Protocol stating they would not licence clergy who did not conform to the church’s teaching that they be “chaste and not engage in sex outside of marriage.” The Diocese of Gippsland in Victoria has since abrogated the protocol, and other dioceses are expected to follow suit.

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