15 May 2014

Church considers blessing gay couples

12:40 pm on 15 May 2014

The Anglican Church in New Zealand is defending its slow progress on accepting same sex relationships.

On Wednesday it was announced after a general synod in Waitangi that a report would be commissioned on whether priests can bless gay marriages which happen outside of the church.

St Paul's Cathedral in Dunedin.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Archbishop Phillip Richardson said the church still thinks Christian marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

But he said it has unanimously agreed same-sex couples can be part of church life and is commissioning a report on whether gay marriages and civil unions performed outside of the church can be blessed by a priest.

That report will not be complete for another two years.

Archbishop Richardson acknowledged the delay is hurtful to same-sex couples but said changing hundreds of years of church doctrine was a slow process.

A professor in religion at Massey University, Peter Lineham, said the Anglican Church worldwide is divided over the issue to the point of a threat of schism. He said the church in New Zealand has taken a very cautious pro-change approach and is aiming for unanimity.