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Polynesians opt out of same-sex blessing

Thursday 10 May 2018 | Published in Regional

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NEW ZEALAND – The Anglican Church in New Zealand has paved the way for the blessing of same-sex relationships – but Anglican churches in Polynesia will all opt out – the Anglican Synod said in a statement this week.

Church leaders are in New Plymouth for their biennial General Synod where a raft of motions covering social issues are being debated.

On Wednesday they supported a motion which will allow bishops to authorise blessings of same-sex relationships.

It will allow priests to bless same-sex civil marriage or civil unions, but not to carry out same-sex marriage in the Anglican church.

The issue of recognising same-sex relationships has challenged the church and its three tikanga or strands – Maori, Polynesian and Pakeha – for the best part of half a century.

The decision carried by a strong majority, came after a working group report proposed a solution which would provide bishops with authority to allow or deny Anglican priests in their area to bless same-sex relationships.

But Anglican churches in Polynesia will all opt out.

Working group member, Fe’iloakitau Kahi Tevi, indicated that in the Pacific such a change would not be acceptable “but our children may have different views.” He also emphasised the strong desire for the church to remain together even if there were different views.

“In our difference we find our strength,” he said.

Tikanga Pakeha archbishop Philip Richardson, who spoke at length of the integrity, sincerity and quality of the debate, said he acknowledged the hurt and sadness the decision would cause some delegates.

While the Tikanga Pasifika arm of the church said that it was against the blessing of “same-gender relationships”, it didn’t vote against the motion as it didn’t want to hinder its Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pakeha partners in the church.

The motion provides protection for theological convictions held by bishops, priests and parishes, and won’t see any changes to the church’s doctrine or its formularies around marriage.

- PNC sources