The leaders of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia (ANZP) have rejected a proposal by the Archbishop of Sydney, saying they do not believe he understood the identity of the province clearly.

In May, the province’s General Synod passed a resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages that tried to accommodate both proponents and opponents of the practice. A number of Anglicans have said they need to leave the province because of that decision.

General Synod’s motion said there should be no change to the Church’s teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. But it added that individual bishops should be free to use provisions already within the province’s canons for a non-formulary service for blessing same-sex relationships.

Speaking at the invitation of the ANZP archbishops in August, the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, proposed an alternative Anglican diocese or province that would overlap with the province’s existing structures, for those Anglicans who do not accept General Synod’s decision.

On Nov. 13, Archbishops Don Tamihere and Philip Richardson of the Anglican Church of ANZP published their response to his proposal.

In their response, the archbishops outline the history of the Anglican church in the islands of New Zealand and Polynesia, and point out that it is built on a history of “colonized and colonizer.”

They add: “With respect, Anglicans in this province have grappled — with limited success — with what ‘distinctive coexistence’ means for more than 200 years. We have grappled with what it means to live with people who God made differently to us.

“Our General Synod resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages cannot be divorced from this shared history — it was a cross-tikanga resolution, decades in the making. Indeed, had it not been for the extraordinary generosity and patience extended by Tikanga Māori (and Tikanga Polynesia) on this very matter, this province would be in a far less healthy state than it is today.”

Adapted from ACNS

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