Same-sex marriage, legal aid and poverty are among the issues to be discussed at the Melbourne Anglican Synod, which opens at St Paul’s Cathedral tonight.
The synod will also celebrate 10 years of ministry by the Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, in that role. Assistant bishops in the Melbourne diocese will lay hands upon him in blessing, and members of the Archbishop in Council will pray.
The motion on same-sex marriage says it is not only a question of human rights, and that the consequences of redefining marriage are difficult to see. It requests Parliament and the media to set an example by promoting respect for people of differing positions, cultivating respectful free speech and avoiding religious vilification.
Another motion seeks to uphold the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in long-long union to the exclusion of all others.
The synod, which runs until Saturday, is being held during anti-poverty week, and another motion grieves at the persistent existence of poverty, which diminishes the innate value of individual human life, and urges Anglican parishes to persist in developing informed and compassionate responses.
On legal aid, a motion calling for increased funding notes that since 2000 at least 45,000 people have been forced to represent themselves in court because legal aid services are in crisis.
The synod will also seek to support Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother who was sentenced to death under the nation’s blasphemy law for drinking from the same water as Muslims. Archbishop Freier has previously written to the Pakistani ambassador urging that she be honourably acquitted and to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking him to seek the same outcome.
Media are welcome to attend the synod, and there are prepared positions for television cameras, provided advance notice is given.
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