Sydney’s ‘Line in The Sand’ Revisited

Sadly, on this blog-site, we were treated to an interview yesterday with the previous Archbishop of Sydney, Glen Davis, outlining his defence of his former diocese’s rejection of any Australian Provincial Anglican policy of welcoming the Blessing of Same-Sex Civil Marriages for Church members – a pastoral measure that has already found favour in most other Western Churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion, and including other dioceses of the Anglican Church in Australia.

Davis’ fundamentalist approach to the subject of gender and sexuality issues in the Church follows on from the action of his immediate predecessor, whose reaction against any pastoral outreach towards LGBTQ people helped to encourage certain African and other Global South Primates to form the reactionary sodality known as ‘GAFCON’ – a collection of ultra-conservative Anglican Leaders – on the basis of what they were pleased to call their ‘Jerusalem Statement of Faith’, based on the 39 Articles of Religion and a ‘sola Scriptura’ understanding of matters of Faith, which has for so long held the Church in bondage to institutional sexism and homophobia

With the arrival of a new understanding of gender and sexuality – which has largely abandoned the old idea of homosexuality as a vice, requiring the criminalisation of homosexuals as ‘depraved’, ‘sinners’, and ‘enemies of society’ – this has required a radically different treatment of LGBTQ people, affording them the same rights as any other minority living with the new legal rights of social acceptance and respect accorded to all people – regardless of gender identification or sexual-orientation.

Most Christian people now accept the understanding that homosexuality itself is a morally neutral condition rendering its habitues as subject to the same civil laws and civil rights as any other person. In the eyes of an enlightened, modern, Church community, LGBTQ people are all created in the divine Image and Likeness, and therefore to be respected and regarded equal to cis-gendered persons in the Church.

Archbishop Glen Davis – together with an Anglican Bishop in Tasmania – came to New Zealand together in an attempt to persuade the Anglican Church Leaders of ACANZ to resist any pastoral accommodation of the new law here which gave the rights of Civil Marriage to Same-Sex persons – on the same basis as that of other (heterosexual) couples. However, their attempt to sway our Leaders against the plan to offer a Blessing of Same-Sex Marriages in our churches did not bear fruit. This refusal of our New Zealand Anglican Church to discriminate against Same-Sex civilly-married couples did not please the two Australian bishops.

They proved their displeasure by showing up at the episcopal ordination of a GAFCON-affiliated (former ACANZ Church) minister to head a new breakaway church in Aotearoa/NZ, adding to a plethora of dissident quasi-Anglican churches under the protection of the GAFCON Primates in other countries. This ordination took place without notifying the New Zealand Anglican Bishops of what was happening in their territory. The presiding bishop at this Christchurch ordination was none other than the ACNA Archbishop in North America, who also happens to be Chair of the GAFCON! (His ACNA Church is not recognised by the A.C.C.)

If the Sydney (and Tasmania) Anglicans decide to break away from the Australian National Anglican Provincial Church, this will follow the pattern of schismatic severance on issues of gender and sexuality that has threatened the unity of other Anglican Communion Churches that have remained loyal to Canterbury and Lambeth. Schismatic severance can only be seen as a threat to the intention of the Founder of The Body of Christ, who prayed to the Father that “ALL MAY BE ONE”. Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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