Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gracious Restraint!!!!!!

The meeting was much as I feared.
Archbishop Aspinall began by describing the General Convention of the Episcopal Church at which he was an observer for its first week.  Many were astounded at the size of the proceedings but having read about it at the time on many of the blogs on my list, there was nothing new in that for me. I have also attended a number of Librarian Conventions in the USA and know how they compare in size with those here in Australia.
The Archbishop  perhaps wistfully mentioned that each of the 110 dioceses has the same number of delegates irrespective of size. In Australia, General Synod is made up of representatives from each of the twenty three dioceses on a proportional basis according to the number of active clergy in each diocese. This gives the Sydney Diocese a very large number of representatives. 

He then outlined Resolutions C056 and D025 and stressed they did not rescind B033 although he described the media frenzy that resulted from their passing as being unfortunate and criticised the press releases of the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop as being "too little, too late".

He described a long list (8?) of  the problems with the Covenant which had me feeling hopeful  until he followed with a similar list of the potential benefits.

What most annoyed me was his assertion that there needed to be more discussion of the theological and Biblical aspects of the position of committed homosexual partnerships. Although he acknowledged this had been happening for at least 40 years in the USA, it had not occurred in Australia. Yet he had no idea of what had happened in individual dioceses as a result of the few papers that had been prepared and distributed. He admitted that the Australian church lacked mechanisms for interchange of ideas. The national webpage is pathetic(my description) and the national paper is defunct. 

The Australian General Synod and the Primate do not have the powers of their counterparts in TEC. As the website states:
Although the Anglican Church of Australia is one church its structure means that political control is vested in the dioceses and the parishes rather than held centrally by the General Synod. ..... Any rule involving a matter which could affect a diocese must be adopted by the dioceses.

The diocese is the basic unit of the Australian church. .....  this bottom up structure means that the Primate, the Archbishop or the General Synod have only limited authority to speak on behalf of the church. Consequently, the church is often criticised for not being able to respond quickly enough to changing political or legal situations.  When it tries to address these situations, the Church seems rarely capable of speaking with a single voice. 

Archbishop Aspinall is a reasonable man but he seems to believe that he is dealing with reasonable men and that continued dialogue will see the church come to know the mind of God. 
If I had been acknowledged (I did put my hand up),  I would have declared that those who run the Diocese of Sydney will never join in reasonable discussion. As I stated in my previous post, women were ordained to the priesthood in Australia 15 years after New Zealand and only after those opposed had tried to prevent it in the courts of the land and failed. 

A priest, in a question, referred to understanding the Love of God but Aspinall countered with words that might have come from the evangelicals that we also need to understand what is sin. I believe he was just putting the case to be fair but was still sad to hear him say it. 

One man outed himself as a homosexual and made an impassioned plea for the hypocrisy to end. He declared that homosexuals, both out and closeted, are being ordained in every diocese in the land except Sydney and Armidale (I would add North West Australia). He later listed some examples to me in a private conversation.  He claimed that the battle over women priests had ended (this brought howls from women in particular, because it has not ended in the Sydney Diocese) and eventually must end over homosexuality. He is an out gay principal in a State school and there are no problems. The church is lagging way behind the times. 

Archbishop Aspinall stated he would not reply to that but allow the man's speech to stand. He also told us how he had breakfasted at the convention with a partnered lesbian rector from Chicago whose parish was supporting 2 clergy in the Diocese of the Sudan despite the regular criticisms from the Archbishop of the Sudan of TEC.  Aspinall several times commented on the resolve by TEC to reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican communion.

The meeting was arranged by Anglicans Together which is an organisation of Anglicans in the Diocese of Sydney which values an inclusive and diverse expression of Anglicanism. The Archbishop told us he read the newsletters and he encouraged us to meet and support one another.

So I believe as I did before the meeting that Archbishop Aspinall would like to be more openly supportive but  feels restricted by the role of Primate which has little real power and also by his belief that the church will move to find the will of God by continued prayer and discussion. As a person who is affected by the process I believe in a little more activism than he would prefer. 

General Synod dithered for years over the ordination of women and it was only after the then Archbishop of Perth (later Primate) and the Bishop of Canberra-Goulburn took matters into their own hands, withstood the legal attacks and ordained the first women that the General Synod finally decided in their favour. 

The Sydney evangelicals never forgave either bishop and treated Archbishop Peter Carnley with outride rudeness when he became Primate. They are not reasonable men and will never listen to reasonable discussion, Stuff em.



Anonymous said...

If it walks like a Baptist, quacks like a Baptist, it's a Baptist. The Primate seems a reasonable Anglican man who displays traditional tolerance. But that characteristic doesn't apply to people who aren't Anglicans. There's little hope in Jensenland, which should be thrown out of the Communion for heretical bigotry and its anti-Christian propaganda.These people don't understand Anglicanism.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian
Can you see any possibility of a Changing Attitude group being successful in Sydney? Is there anything like it in Sydney or Australia for that matter?
You can email me

Brian R said...

Hi Anonymous
A bit hard to email you when there is no contact. Please email me privately A year or more ago, I contacted CA and they told me their link in Aust (I think Vic) was no longer active. I did contact someone in NZ. CA suggested I might start up a group in Aust. However 1. I have few contacts and 2. I plan to move to NZ.

Alcibiades said...

I'd planned to attend, but an up-all-nighter with a sick toddler (he's fine now, but it's going to take me a week to recover ;-) the night before forced me to cancel. Thanks for your report - I'm not sure I missed much.

You're quite right in saying that the real problem is that these people aren't reasonable. There is no give-and-take, none of the commitment to tolerant engagement that others in the Communion take for granted. No matter what biblical and theological evidence is presented to the Sydney hardliners (and it's already been in front of them for decades) they'll continue to maintain their position, since their homophobia and misogyny wasn't arrived at as a result of theology to start with.

Funnily enough, Fr. Ackeroff, I've got a couple of very dear Baptist friends here who take great exception to their faith's good name being applied to the Jensens. Their parishes are certainly far more inclusive than any of the Jensenist congregations, their preaching certainly reflects a deeper understanding of theology and Scripture, and they have a much higher view of the Sacraments. Unlike the Sydney Anglican pseudo-baptists they also have a sense of humour, and don't consider laughter a mortal sin.

Brian R said...

I was disappointed you did not attend Alci. Sorry about your toddler and hope you recover soon. I am just now writing a more personal story which developed from a conversation that night. I may have related it to you when we met.