British bishop rebukes Sydney Anglican leader’s call for gay marriage supporters to leave church
Bishop of Liverpool says he regrets that Archbishop Glenn Davies ‘seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them’
Tue 22 Oct 2019 23.40 BSTLast modified on Tue 22 Oct 2019 23.44 BST
A senior Church of England bishop has expressed regret at comments by the Archbishop of Sydney that supporters of marriage equality should leave the Anglican church.
Reflecting sharp divisions within the global Anglican communion over LGBT+ issues, the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, said: “I regret that the archbishop [of Sydney] seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them within the wider Anglican family.”
Archbishop Glenn Davies said last week that those who supported same-sex marriage should abandon the church.
“If people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican church by abandoning the plain teaching of scripture,” he said. “Please leave us.”Advertisement
Davies’ remarks drew rebukes from other representatives of the church around Australia last week, with many interpreting his comments as being directed at everyone in the church – though he later said they were aimed at bishops rather than parishioners. Now other representatives from the UK have joined in.
A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the leader of the global Anglican communion, declined to comment on Davies’ remarks.
The Anglican communion, which comprises some 80 million members of autonomous but connected churches in 38 provinces, has been riven over the issue of LGBT equality and same-sex marriage for decades.
Two years ago the Scottish Episcopal church was effectively sanctioned by global church leaders for its acceptance of same sex marriage. The US church faced similar punitive action in 2016 for its stance welcoming marriage equality.
At the time, Anglican primates issued a statement in support of the “traditional doctrine” that marriage should be between a man and a woman, while acknowledging the “deep pain” of the divisions within the communion. Differences are becoming more marked, and some believe a split in the global church cannot be avoided.
The issue is expected to dominate next summer’s Lambeth conference 2020 – a once-in-a-decade gathering of more than 1,200 Anglican bishops from around the world in Canterbury, England.
Bishops belonging to Gafcon, an alliance of conservatives deeply opposed to LGBT+ equality, have announced plans for an alternative gathering in Rwanda.
The Bishop of Liverpool told the Guardian: “I still hope that bishops from Sydney will attend the Lambeth conference next year so that we can all talk together and learn from one another there.
“Meanwhile, I’m glad that other parts of the Australian church are engaging in dialogue with Sydney and are advocating for a greater inclusion and a wider and more diverse church. It’s good to be in the same communion with all these people.”
Other Church of England bishops declined to comment on Davies’ comments, saying they did not represent mainstream views within the church.
For example, in Oxford, a new chaplaincy dedicated to LGBTI+ people and those close to them is due to begin work shortly, a year after the diocese’s four bishops issued an open letter, “Clothed with Love”. It said all people were welcome in God’s church, and called for inclusion and respect.
Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner for equality within the Church of England and a member of the UK government’s LGBT advisory panel, said she was “deeply shocked and saddened” by Davies’ comments.
“Christ welcomed all – and we are all called to do the same. To do otherwise is to preach a false Gospel, one that is based on prejudice and fear. The Anglican Communion has committed itself to walking together despite our differences – Dr Davies would do well to try walking in a young LGBT person’s shoes, and recognise the blatant homophobia inherent in his remarks.”
Davies’ statement came after the synod of the diocese of Wangaratta in Victoria agreed to allow blessings of same-sex marriages in September. The decision is being challenged at the church’s appellate tribunal.
Next year the Anglican Church’s general synod will hold a conference alongside its special session where delegates can discuss issues facing the church, including same-sex relationships and marriage, and discuss ways forward.
In an opinion piece for Nine’s newspapers on Friday evening, Davies sought to clarify his comments, stating his words were directed at bishops of the church, and those who wish to change the doctrine.
“I stand by those words,” he said. “The words were not directed at members of our congregations, especially those who identify as gay, whether single or married.
“It is regrettable that some have misrepresented my words, whether intentionally or unintentionally.”Advertisement
A report said Davies had received a standing ovation for his comments at the 51st synod of the diocese of Sydney.
I noted in this article from, the Guardian, that when the writer asked for a comment from the ABC’s office in the U.K., the only response was – nothing:
” A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the leader of the global Anglican communion, declined to comment on Davies’ remarks”.
In a way, this could be a good thing, if only because comment from theArchbishop of Canterbury could mean that he is not wanting to lend oxygen to the conservative Evangelical Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s patent disregard for the Gospel outreach to LGBTQI people – not only in the Church but in the world outside the Church.
For Sydney, it seems that any publicity is good publicity for its combative style of fundamentalist evangelicalism. However, the presence of the Archbishop of Sydney at the recent piratical invasion of Kiwi Anglican space in Aotearoa/New Zealand – together withthat of former Sydney Archbishop Peter Jenson and Tasmania’s Anglican Archbishop – this act of profound disrespect for Anglican foreign boundaries marks out these 3 Australian prelates as being more audacious than usual.
And why? Well, despite being told – in answer to a request that ACANZP jettison its intention to go ahead with a provision for Same-Sex Blessings in N.Z. dioceses where this seems to meet pastoral needs – these Rt.Revvs decided to turn up (with no permission sought from the local Anglican bishops) to assist at the Christchurch ordination of a schismatic (former Anglican) New Zealand minister as ‘bishop’ of a new GAFCON-raised ‘Confessing Anglican Church’.
Such Border-Crossings‘, however, within the world-wide Anglican Communion have happened before – again, at the instigation of one or other of the GAFCON primates, who have started their own quasi-Anglican Church with its own canonical structure that does NOT tally with that of other Anglican Communion Churches connected to the Lambeth Conference or the Anglican Consultative Council.
Although a one-time Archbishop of Sydney was responsible in setting up the GAFCON organisation (which has spawned what is now know as ‘Confessing Anglican Churches in North America and the U.K. ( i.e. ACNA and AMiE, both represented and active at this N.Z. incursion last Saturday in a Presbyterian School Assembly Hall) – Australia had never before actually trespassed on New Zealand Church (ACANZP) territory with the intention of ordaining local schismatic clergy’ However, this line, now crossed, marks a significant break in ecclesial relationships between the Anglican Church in Australia and ACANZP.
In concert with other GAFCON bishops from around the world – including the chief bishop of ACNA, who had a significant role in rhe ordination service – this action of bishops from the Australian Anglican Church has caused a situation of severe enbarrassment for the Bishops of ACANZP, who have yet to make a statement.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
Since posting this thread, I have received notification from the Christchurch Diocesan Office that our Bishop Peter Carrell (+Christchurch) in an ‘ad clerum’. has now issued a Statement on this issue, and at the same time has published another Statement from ACANZ Provincial Archbishops.
Fr. Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand