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Primate urges Anglicans to vote in postal poll on same-sex marriage

Federal Parliament would find it hard to ignore the express will of a sizeable majority, whatever the result, Dr Freier says

Archbishop Freier said he hoped and trusted that same-sex marriage would be discussed "in the most generous spirit" at General Synod, the Church's national parliament, on the Sunshine Coast from 3-8 September.

By Mark Brolly

August 28 2017Melbourne's Archbishop Philip Freier, as Anglican Primate of Australia, has encouraged all Anglicans to vote in the postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage, saying Federal Parliament would find it hard to ignore the result if either side achieved a big majority.

Dr Freier said that although he did not believe the Church was likely to revise its doctrine on marriage, “the Church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice to each other, and that Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should”.

“We understand that sometimes gays, lesbians and others have felt judged and rejected, even ostracised, inside the Church and that we have to be much more pastorally sensitive in future,” he wrote in a blog on 26 August.

Archbishop Freier wrote that what mattered was that Anglicans approached the question with prayer and confidence in the Church’s teaching “as well as kindness in our speech towards those with whom we disagree”. He also indicated that he intended to vote “No” in the plebiscite.

“Although the plebiscite is not legally binding, I believe that Parliament will find it hard to ignore the express will of a sizeable majority, should either side achieve that,” Dr Freier wrote.

“Anglicans, like other Australians, have a wide range of opinions on same-sex marriage, supporting or opposing it for a variety of reasons in accordance with their conscience and their understanding of the principles and issues. I do not presume to advise others how they should vote, though I myself intend to vote ‘no’.

“I think Anglicans can provide, and indeed already are providing, a model for wider society in the courteous and eirenic way we disagree, respecting that each side’s position can be a principled and considered one, and without vilifying our opponents. The question will be discussed at General Synod next month, and I hope and trust that we will do so in the most generous spirit.

“As I wrote to Australia’s Anglican bishops late last year, before Parliament rejected the first plebiscite proposal, if same-sex marriage becomes law the Church must accept that it will then be part of the landscape. We can still stand for and offer holy matrimony between a man and a woman as a sacred ordinance given by God, while accepting that the state has endorsed a wider view of marriage.

“The doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, that marriage is between a man and a woman, under God, forsaking all others until death parts them. I do not believe that the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage.”

General Synod, the national parliament of the Anglican Church of Australia, is due to consider a motion on same-sex marriage and an apology to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer community when it meets in Maroochydore, Queensland, from 3-8 September.