Gay marriage rites recommended for New Zealand church

Gay marriage does not entail a change in church doctrine, a New Zealand church commission has argued, and thus could be permitted under the 1992 constitution of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. In a report released on 22 Feb 2016 the Way Forward Working Group (WFWG) recommended the church adopt liturgies for the blessing of same-sex marriage, and to reform the canons to allow those in same-sex marriages to be ordained to the  ministry. The WFWG stated the 1992 constitution permits changes to the church’s formularies if these changes do not “represent any departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as defined in Te Pouhere’s own Fundamental Provisions.” The reported stated that it was “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 Te Pouhere, however the group also recognises that this will be a crucial matter for debate.” It further stated that by adopting same-sex marriage or blessing rites the canonical requirements that individuals who present themselves for ordination be chaste or live in “rightly-ordered relationships” would overcome the current prohibitions upon ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians. The WFWG recommended that each diocese and jurisdiction be give the local option of permitting or forbidding gay weddings and clergy and asked that no cleric be penalized if they refused to solemnize such a union. In the report’s covering letter, New Zealand Archbishop Philip Richardson said: “General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui 2016 will consider this Report and will need to decide whether to receive the report and its recommendations and, if so, how to act on its recommendations. The Working Group have also made it clear that if General Synod in May decides that the mechanism proposed in this report has merit then this should  go back to each Hui Amorangi and each Diocese for consideration and decision.”


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