The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia has been petitioned by the majority of its delegates, expressing regret that the House of Bishops failed to clearly affirm the teaching of Christ on marriage.

The rare move follows the statement in support of Jesus teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, which received majority support of clergy and laity yesterday but did not receive the support of the majority in the smaller House of Bishops.

Sydney’s regional bishops voted for the motion, as did several other country Diocesan Bishops.

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel, who moved the original motion, said later that he was “deeply disappointed that a majority of Bishops voted against making a clear statement. A valuable moment for clarity has been lost.”

In a rare move, clergy, laity, and several Bishops then signed a petition which read:

Noting with regret that on 11 May 2022, despite clear support from the majority of General Synod (including majorities in the Houses of Laity and Clergy), the majority of the House of Bishops voted against Motion 20.3 “Statements as to the Faith, Ritual, Ceremonial or Discipline of this Church made under Section 4 of the Constitution”,

the petitioners humbly pray that Synod commits to praying that all Members of the House of Bishops would clearly affirm and be united in their support for the teaching of Christ concerning marriage and the principles of marriage reflected in the Book of Common Prayer.

The petition was presented by Sydney Canon Phil Colgan and Melbourne lay delegate Fiona McLean. The motion to receive it passed easily, meaning it becomes part of the record of the Synod.

The failure to affirm does not change the doctrine of marriage. The previous General Synod in 2017 twice affirmed the teaching of Jesus on marriage. 

Photo (by James Levingston): Lay delegate Fiona McLean presenting the petition.