The head of the Anglican Church of Australia has weighed in on the decision of a diocese in rural Victoria to begin blessing married same-sex couples, urging them to delay the move.

The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, has referred the matter to the Anglican Church’s Appellate Tribunal for its opinion on the matter and has written to Wangaratta Bishop John Parkes urging him not to proceed before the tribunal issues a decision.

Archbishop Freier will reportedly be gathering Australia’s Anglican bishops to discuss the matter before the end of the year.

According to the rules of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Freier has no power to stop Bishop Parkes from blessing Wangaratta priests John Davis and Robert Whalley if he chooses to proceed.

Parkes has indicated that this could take place as soon as September 14 after the couple are legally married.

According to Anglican minister and blogger David Ould, “Freier’s actions in making a direct request of Bishop Parkes are likely to be received with gladness by conservatives in the national church who had become increasingly frustrated with what they perceived as a relative passivity over this growing crisis.”

“Given that Parkes, Davis and Whalley have sought to make their event a cause célèbre, actively participating in many media interviews and highlighting the service in a speech at synod it would be a major setback for Parkes to now resile. He has previously stated that he is convinced there is no impediment to him proceeding with the blessing.”

“To proceed would worsen his position in any upcoming disciplinary Special Tribunal brought about by his presiding at the service.”

However Parkes is retiring on December 21 and the Appellate Tribunal is unlikely to issue an opinion until after he has already retired.

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