In a victory for conservatives at its General Synod, Australia’s Anglican Church voted Thursday not to allow the ordination of homosexuals or church blessing of same-sex relationships.
“We must say it gently and with compassion, but we must not condone any liturgical blessing of homosexual partnerships in disregard of the plain teaching of Jesus,” said Sandy Grant, a rector in the Sydney parish of Kurrajon. “To deliberately hallow such a God-forbidden relationships is to approve sin.”
The issue of homosexuality, which has caused divisions within churches, denominations, and Christian alliances worldwide, has also threatened to split the 77 million worldwide Anglican Communion.
Earlier this week, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Nigeria’s top Anglican leader proposed establishing new U.S. parishes under his jurisdiction to offer an alternative for Nigerian Anglicans in the U.S. who feel they can no longer worship in the U.S. Episcopal Church since it elected V. Gene Robinson bishop of New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, nine of the 107 Episcopal dioceses in the United States, plus about 240 individual congregations outside of those dioceses, have joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, which conservatives formed as a "church within a church" in response to the theological divide.
Later this month the Lambeth commission, a group appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to look at ways of bridging the theological divide exposed by Robinson's elevation will recommend what course the Anglican Communion should take in response to the U.S. Episcopal Church’s actions last year.
Earlier this week, Australia's Anglican Church also rejected a move to ordain women as bishops after a lengthy debate at its governing council on Tuesday. The final vote on the proposal failed to garner the two-thirds majority required.