How do Anglicans think about social issues?
Anglicans across the Church in Australia are involved in and concerned with many issues within our society today.
Many of these areas are discussed at a diocesan level and different dioceses release statements or documents outlining their position (in particular see Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney).
Some issues are discussed at the national level and resolutions from General Synod have been made. The conversation that the Church has with society and its members is expressed in the form of resolutions.
Resolutions are not binding on the Church in the same way as legislation which is passed by Canon. Rather, resolutions express the ‘mind’ of the Synod’s representatives gathered on the particular occasion. They reveal the depth and breadth of consensus between Anglicans about particular matters at a point in time. Resolutions need to be ‘read’ carefully. The stronger the language used signals that the consensus is broad and held deeply. The views of individual Anglicans, priests and even by Dioceses can and do vary from these resolutions at times.
Please be aware that resolutions passed by the General Synod change as the perceived influence or role of the General Synod changes over time. The federal character of the Anglican Church of Australia has meant that issues would be addressed at a national level if it was perceived to be part of the national Church’s ‘business’. The General Synod therefore spoke more frequently about internal church business with local dioceses expressing views on particular social because diocesan synods would meet more regularly and potentially be better placed to influence local decision makers in society and government.
Because Anglicanism is a global communion, material from other Anglican Churches has been brought in to widen the conversation. As the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of the USA are better resourced than the Australian Church they are often more able to elaborate their views more extensively. Please note that the views expressed by these churches are not necessarily views shared by Australian Anglicans, afterall we are also in conversation with our British and American friends on these issues too.
A variety of pages concerning social issues are under development. Theses pages contain mainly resolutions for General Synod. Unfortunately, reports by General Synod bodies are not currently available due to technological limitations. Links to Lambeth Resolutions are provide wherever possible. Researchers are asked to consult diocesan yearbooks and speeches of the presiding bishop to determine a fuller portrait of Anglican attitudes to particular social issues.