Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bishops in New South Wales

I know overseas Anglicans are often confused when they hear that Peter Jensen is Archbishop of Sydney. In Australia the title Archbishop is given to the Bishop of the State Capital Cities. The Archbishop does not have any jurisdiction over the other dioceses within the state. He is usually present at the consecration of any of the regional bishops which may prove interesting if any of the NSW dioceses elects a woman as their bishop.
The Primate of Australia is elected by General Synod and is usually but not necessarily one of the Archbishops. At the moment it is ++Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane.
Canberra became the national capital in 1927 and prior to its choice was not much more than a rural sheep station. It was located in the then Diocese of Goulburn which became the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn in 1950. The cathedral is in Gouburn but the administrative offices are in Canberra which is now much larger. It could be argued that there should be an Archbishop seated there.
I was glad to read in not too much a statement by the recently retired Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn +George Browning. The position is currently vacant (a woman anyone ;-)
"I want for a moment to turn to our own Anglican Communion. It is a very sad, and a sorry state of affairs, that we could be moving towards a loosening of the ties of friendship and fellowship between us, because of the insistence by some that we be committed to the law of Moses "unremembered", a commitment that apparently does not appreciate, or understand, that it is be understood and fulfilled in the life of Jesus.

Let me be quite specific. Of course homosexuality is a contentious issue in the community at large, and in the community of faith. Of course the issue is understood differently in different cultures across the world. Rightly, or wrongly, the Anglican Church of Australia, holds the position of the last Lambeth conference, a conservative position in relation to those who can be ordained and in the matter of the blessing of same sex unions.

In the light of all of this, it is incomprehensible, and I believe inexcusable, that the Archbishop of Sydney should be one of those in the forefront of anticipating division within the Anglican Communion, and has gone on public record as one who is sponsoring the proposed "alternative Lambeth" in Jerusalem in the middle of this year.

He is reported to have said the matter is much more serious than simply a matter of sexuality; it goes to the heart of the authority of scripture itself. On this I absolutely agree. It does go to the heart of scripture itself. But read the scripture: the Law of Moses is to be remembered in the light of the revelation of nature of God in Jesus.

I say to Peter Akinola and Peter Jensen, "Come with me and the Church to the Damascus Rd, come and be confronted by the voice of the Living One, the one who walks on the water and raises the dead. Come with me into the presence of the one who re-members the Law of Moses, and offers it as a tool of life, not a weapon of exclusion and death." I have written to Archbishop Peter Jensen urging him to reconsider his proposal. He has absolutely no right to impose his agenda without consultation upon the Church in the Middle East, and if he is genuine about a debate on scripture, let us have it, for I am one who rejoices in the knowledge that all scripture is to be exposed on the anvil of revelation, which is Jesus Christ."

I have already referred to the statement by + Brian Farran of Newcastle (NSW) I wrote a thank you note on the Diocesan Forum
This has now had a lengthy addition from
Sandy Grant, St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral, Wollongong which seems to equate committed homosexual relationships with the sexual activities of the Woman taken in adultery????
Thankfully +Brian Farran has replied including:
"For me the fundamental issue in this whole matter was the need for another voice. Up to the time of my releasing my statement the only voice that Australians and international Anglicans were hearing was that of the Archbishop of Sydney. Obviously within the broad spectrum of the Anglican Church of Australia there are dissenting voices from that of Dr. Jensen. I patiently waited for others to contribute but with nothing forthcoming I decided on advice from others to make my statement.

After reading your letter carefully several times it becomes evident that you conclude that the only authentic view is your own. This applies to your exegesis of texts that you offer in regard to your understanding of the doctrine of the atonement."
"the only authentic view is your own "sounds familiar when reading the views of the typical Jensenite
The only other regional bishop whose views I can find are those of Bishop Peter Brain of Armidale who was trained at Moore Theological College but has also criticised the decision of the Sydney bishops to boycott Lambeth.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nobel Wolf,

You say ++ Jensen has no 'jurisdiction' over other NSW Dioceses.

While its true that he has no 'power' as such, your comment is not strictly correct. He is Metropolitan of NSW and has a similar role in the Province of NSW as the ++Aspinall has as Primate

ie ++Jensen is chair of the Provincial Synod etc.

Indeed its because of ++Jensen's role as Metropolitan that has provoked +Newcastle, Canberra & Armidale to speak out.

This strange arrangement has to do with our colonial history. The Anglican structures slowly evolved in the period 1860-1900 before Federation... ie each colony wanted its own Arch.

Brian R said...

Thank you for this correction. I have done some searching and cannot find what powers the Provincial Synod has. It meets every 5 years (due this year?) and has a standing committee. It was obviously unable to prevent women priests at the time that Sydney Diocese went to the courts in an attempt to prevent the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn from ordaining women. Apparently if a bishop vetoes an act of his synod twice, the synod can appeal to the provincial synod.

Alcibiades said...

thanks for that both anonymous & brian - I've been wondering about +Jensen's role & powers as Metropolitan. It certainly seems a complicated question, and a great deal may soon be hanging on the answer.

Also Brian: the new banner looks GREAT - Mrs. Caliban has just said how how much she likes it, and I know BlackStar (who has, incidentally, tagged you) & Fiver will be most impressed. Well done mate!

Brian R said...

Thanks for the compliment re the banner. No thanks for the tagging. I think I would have preferred if Blackstar had slobbered all over me.

Alcibiades said...

In which case ignore the tag without any fear of offending whatsoever. Tt was intended as a mark of respect for which no response is neccesary ;-)

June Butler said...

Brian, the hierarchical arrangements in Australia are confusing. My brain began to shut down when I tried to work it all out, but I do get that Bp. Brian Ferran is the good guy who speaks from a different position than Jensen and Akinola, but, nevertheless, urges them to join him at Lambeth.

Good for you for voicing your support for the other Brian.

Brian R said...

Thanks Grandmere. You are not the only one confused but guess that is Anglicanism. Have always been amused about the Archbishops of York and Canterbury. One is Primate of all England and the other just England, not sure which is which :-)
Until now I did not know there was a NSW provincial synod, it does not get much press.

Davis said...

These jurisdiction questions are what always get me wondering how much of this rubbish Our Lord really had in mind...

All England = Canterbury

Just Plain England = York

A Blessed Holy Week to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi ... and thanks for your visits to my Not too much site. Archbishop Jensen is Metropolitan of NSW (and the ACT). With respect to the selection of bishops, the duties and powers of the Metropolitan are limited to certifying that the person elected by a diocese within the province is canonically fit, i.e. a priest and of the required age. The Appellate Tribunal found last year that, as a matter of law (not discretion), maleness is not an attribute of canonical fitness. Therefore, for Metropolitan to refuse certification because a candidate was female would be beyond his power.

That said, the Metropolitican could absent himself from the consecration. The new bishop would also have to undertake an oath of canonical obedience to the Metropolitan (i.e promise to obey him, at least in matters where he has the power to require obedience and possibly more broadly).