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'All in God's time'

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

IT is all in God's time. That is how the Anglican Church described the timing behind its presentation of Motion 30 which proposes to find a way to recognise same-sex unions within the church.

The motion from the Anglican Tikanga of the Dioceses of New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia has already divided congregations in New Zealand but it is one the church has pledged to see through.

If successful, Anglican churches in Fiji and the Pacific can be performing same-sex marriage ceremonies by 2016.

Archbishop of Polynesia Winston Halapua explained that recommendations on a separate structure and process to bless same-sex unions would be presented to the church's General Synod in 2016.

He said the way forward would be decided once the 2016 General Synod heard the recommendations.

In the letter announcing the motion, the church called for a working group to recommend a process and structure by which same-gender unions can be blessed while maintaining its integrity within the church.

The motion also clearly states this structure must be in line with laws governing whichever nation the union is in.

At present same-sex marriage in Fiji is illegal.

"The timing is God's timing and it comes through God's synod and is important for the people to bring their voices on this issue," Archbishop Halapua explained.

He said local reps of the different churches were tasked with taking the issue to their congregation and to ensure that whichever system arises was in line with the local laws.

While Motion 30 has been met with approval from sections of the LGBTI community, the issue has been taken with need for a separate structure for blessing same-sex unions.

"While this is a positive move from the Anglican Church, we also have concerns the current proposal to create a separate process and structure for those in same-sex relationships promotes the belief that these relationships are less important or equal under the eyes of God," the Drodrolagi movement said yesterday.

When broached on the issue, the Catholic Church said it still believed in the traditional idea of marriage being between a man and a woman.

"If that is what the Anglicans have decided that is their view on the issue, but the Catholic Church still believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman," Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Methodist Church said it needed to be understood that the position of the three dioceses came from a process of responding to the contexts and issues facing the society in which it lived and served.

"The process is not merely one of policy but has involved a deep and honest theological reflection," Reverend James Bhagwan said.

"We hold to a similar theological tradition which they express "the church has received and articulated an understanding of intimate human relationships which it expresses through her doctrine of marriage between a man and a woman, and is life-long and monogamous.

"And while they have not reached agreement of the way forward, they are having the conversation in a sincere way."

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