Gay ordinations 'up to superiors'

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland has told a hearing of the Human Rights Tribunal he is "open to change" but will not ordain homosexuals until his superiors decide otherwise.

The hearing was brought by the Gay and Lesbian Clergy Anti-Discrimination Society against the Anglican Bishop of Auckland, Ross Bay. The tribunal began sitting in the Auckland District Court on Monday.

Geno Sisneros, 39, an events co-ordinator at St Matthew-in-the-City church, says he has not been allowed to follow his calling in the Anglican faith because he is in a same-sex relationship.

He arrived in Auckland from the United States in 2002 and became an active participant at the church three years later.

After taking on a Bachelor of Theology degree at Auckland University, he expressed his interest in a three-year training programme, a pre-requisite for being ordained in the Anglican Church.

However, after five years of study and protracted discussions with Bishop Bay, Mr Sisneros was told he would not be accepted on to the programme.

Yesterday the bishop told the tribunal that although he had authority to make decisions in his diocese, he was guided by the thoughts of others in the church.

"It was decided the wisest course of action was not to invite people to participate when there were significant impediments preventing ordination," he said.

Bishop Bay said he was "open to change in this matter" but only with a concrete decision from those above him.

"Should the appropriate basis for change be found within the church, I'd be willing to proceed with such ordinations within this diocese but I won't pre-empt the decision-making process," he said.

Dunedin priest the Rev Juan Kinnear, who has been in a same-sex relationship for 25 years, told the court he was ordained as a deacon in 2006 and a priest in 2007 by the Bishop of Dunedin despite controversy surrounding the appointment.

Asked by the tribunal whether there could be exceptions within the Anglican Church, Mr Kinnear said: "I believe I'm as much an exhibit as I am a witness."

On Monday Mr Sisneros told the tribunal he "felt totally humiliated" by being barred from the training programme.

The Dominion Post