Saturday, 29 September 2007

women bishops for Australia

The official announcement about the tribunal decision is here:
Appellate Tribunal determination on Women Bishops:

The Anglican Church’s highest legal authority, the Appellate Tribunal, has cleared the way for the consecration of women as diocesan bishops across Australia.

In a majority decision the Tribunal has ruled that there is nothing in the Church’s Constitution that would prevent the consecration of a woman priest as a diocesan bishop in a diocese which by ordinance has adopted the Law of the Church of England Clarification Canon 1992. Not every diocese has done so.

The ruling impacts only on diocesan bishops and not assistant bishops most of whom are elected and confirmed under provisions of the Assistant Bishops’ Canon 1966 which seems to retain the requirement for candidates to be male.

One of the central issues in the ruling allowing women to become diocesan bishops concerned the definition of ‘canonical fitness’. In the Church’s Constitution, adopted in 1962 it was clear at that time canonical fitness included a requirement for ‘maleness.’

The ‘maleness’ requirement was removed in a process that began in 1989 when a canon (church law) was passed that amended the Constitution to redefine ‘canonical fitness.’ The canon came into effect in 1995 after 75% of dioceses, including all metropolitan dioceses, adopted it…

The full text of the decision can be read as a PDF file here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 9:49am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

This news has given me joy all day. I loved the opening paragraphs of the Sydney Morning Herald:

"THE Anglican Church's highest court has cleared the way for women bishops - but the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, will carry on the fight against them. The Appellate Tribunal, by a 4-3 majority, found there is no constitutional barrier to women becoming bishops in the Australian church. The decision could lead one day to a woman leading the Australian church…. The national church is considering ways to provide oversight to traditionalists unwilling to accept women bishops."


If it wasn't so inflammatory, it would be fun for every soul who ever desired there to be women bishops to write to Sydney Anglicans thanking them for pioneering ways to provide oversight to areas outside their own jurisdiction. After all, if Sydney had not proven it worked from South Africa in 1987, the Global South would not have taken it to the US in 2007, and the Australians would not now be contemplating how to apply it.

In terms of healing this world, there is a promise that Esau would be redeemed. In Genesis 27:36-40 Isaac tells Esau that he had made Jacob lord over him "...and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine." Esau weeps aloud as he asks his father for one blessing. Isaac answers with “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”

There is a time promised when Esau will grow sick of violence and throw off the yoke of his brother Joseph. At that time he will experience the dew of heaven and no longer live by the sword. Leah will be with Esau, as it should be, and a major reconciliation will have occurred.

Both Leah and Esau might have had easy access to God's raw power, but both needed to learn to channel it with moderation. A major healing occurs when Esau and Leah can cooperatively guard Eden swinging their swords with full awareness and precision, such that only the ferocious are harmed and the gentle in the flocks can safely move down Zion's highways.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 10:27am BST

Just heard Bishop Forsyth ( area Bishop of Sydney) state they will not be leaving the Anglican Church. He sounded very balanced and was very dignified. You can hear him on via the Anglican Church league website.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 1:21pm BST

Ah, but which Anglican church - given that there may be two claiming the name before long

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 2:40pm BST

Well, Robert, we liberals can always hope that Sydney will change their collective minds in the not to distant future, what?

Posted by: Kurt on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 2:45pm BST

Good news from down under - of course, the American conservatives have banded together in Common Cause in Pittsburgh in a group which - according to the T19 conservative blog- mostly disaproves of women's ordinaton!! It will be interesting to see how such a retro and divided group can hope to hang together once their anger against TEC subsides even a little bit - when they look around at their new "bedfellows" they may be in for a bit of a shock.

Posted by: ettu on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 5:17pm BST

The constitution of the Angican Church of Australia gives Sydney complete autonomy and the theology of the diocese is moving in a more conservative direction. However there are some lovely Christian people in Sydney, and one can not doubt their integrity, that they claim to be the authentic heirs of Cranmer.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 11:29pm BST

Hi Robert

I am sure Forsythe sounded balanced and dignified; I am sure he handles himself with as much aplomb as Akinola. They are both very comfortable with their theology and clear in what strategies are appropriate to quality control and grow suitable congregations.

Here’s a transcript link to an interview with Forsythe from the ABC

He comments "Instead of having the notion that you can sort of move happily around… the situation will be that someone will be in one place recognized, another perhaps honored still, or will not be personally, I think, any way dishonoring to each other, but the ministry will not be available elsewhere. And it's going to cause problems."

This is one example of several articles where Sydney leaders have alluded there will be problems recognizing ministerial qualifications. Their theological college is very clear on what it is suitable teaching. I failed their ethics course because I did not regurgitate the course notes (examiner’s written suggestion to me for when I retried the subject) but addressed relevant ethical issues raised by the exam questions with reference back to bible. I chose to stick to the principles of Isaiah 49 and remain a polished arrow rather than being co-opted by the system. Some might now appreciate my wariness about certain Halls in the UK…

I was only in the course because my local minister said I had no basis to talk without suitable theological training, but since the Anglican church had decreed that maleness was a priestly requirement in the year of my birth - 1962, I've really been behind the 8-ball from the very start.

Still, for every door that has been closed, God has found ways to open others.

Nor is all of Australia hostile. Melbourne's Archbishop has welcomed the decision,21985,22499868-2862,00.html Some might claim to speak for all Australia, but it is a very pluralistic nation, plus they have a love for the underdog and a contrary streak. The only thing you can guarantee about Australians is that the minute one tries to state that they speak for all, you can guarantee a large number riposting with "Oh no, they don't!"

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 12:33am BST

Theres still something very hollow about the victory..manipulating words, and using lawyers.

You may not agree with conservative evangelicals , but there are many sincere and lovely Christians amongst them,and Sydney shames us in the way they wish to reach their fellow men and women for Christ.

You've got to understand their mindset, and they are only concerned for their fellow men and women who they believe are Hell bound.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 8:06pm BST


I would count both you and I as evangelical Christians

I am despised and filthy in the eyes of many evangelical Christians. I have been called the Great Harlot, Daughter of Babylon, Baal Prophetess, the "evil one", insane, corrupt, a perversion, false teacher, destined to hell, the spawn of hell, delusional, ambitious, a filthy woman...

It actually became quite absurd and laughable.

So now I play the balls as God throws them and as people choose how to respond and treat me they hold up a mirror to their own theology.

Those who have an image of the vengeful angry God resort to accusations, misrepresentations, slander campaigns and hyperbole. Those who have an impage of the merciful loving God affirm my strengths and comfort me when I make errors.

Thus I have become a stumbling crack in the path that some simply float across whist others fall in.

I was disgusted that leading Sydney Anglicans used the pulpit to gloat about those going to and Judgement Day shortly after the 2004 SE Asian Tsunami. Would they have been so arrogant if yesterday's 30cm tsunami that went down across Tasmania been 20ft and gone along their coastline instead?

More news here

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 11:33pm BST

"You've got to understand their mindset, and they are only concerned for their fellow men and women who they believe are Hell bound."

"Concerned" are they?

.. and they have a very low opinion of God and his very good creation...

... and abysman behaviou.

None of it amounting to an excuse, in my opinion.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 7:04am BST

_You've got to understand their mindset, and they are only concerned for their fellow men and women who they believe are Hell bound._

That's the same as saying we respect them for honourable motives. So we should respect Pagans and Muslims and Buddhists and anyone.

It doesn't mean we agree with them.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 1:26pm BST

I bet there would be a few people angry if they suddenly were told that the word freehold on their house deeds actually meant leasehold.

No lets not demonise Sydney, but love them and never repay evil with evil..altough I cannot see any of their actions as being evil.

In a way they are radical Christians too, advocating lay presidency.

Furthermore I heard Archbishop Jensen preach...he has a sense of humour and he is not , as they say in Australia a wowser.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 7:08pm BST

Their concern is not "free".

If you do not convert to their theology and subscribe to their global communion, then you are destined for hell.

Then once you are in their communion it is not "free", there are prescribed behaviors and requirements. Especially if you are a woman, we are all the root cause of why sin exists on this planet and are all barred from being teachers because of Eve's error many millennia earlier. Of course, if you remain unrepentant they are quite prepared to allow you to go back to the "evil one", and their parishes and leaders will collude to remove infections from their midst.

Their concern comes with a list of requirements and you are to be of their kind or you are not saved. They might not have 613 mitzvot, but they do have their own sets of laws and requirements.

The power of sin is the law but Christ's victory on the cross sets us free 1 Corinthians 1:55-57. We live by the faith that existed before the Torah and continues even after Jesus resurrection, the faith as waxed lyrical by Paul in Hebrews 11. We heed the call of Spirit and bride from Revelation 22:17 to partake of the FREE gift of the water of life. A gift that is freely and unconditionally offered to all the peopleS of all the nationS, whether they be puritan protestants, Catholics who respect Mary, Jews or Muslims, pagans or Buddhists, people of faith or humanist.

The Trinity through Jesus moved unilaterally and unconditionally to enable ALL humanity for all time to be able to enter into a relationship with God. The veil between the holy of holies and humanity was deliberately, consciously and freely rent asunder. There is no longer any need for "the" divine order to act on behalf of God. You can all be like sons of David, like angels going before the Lord and God will attack anyone who continues to attack Jerusalem come down from heaven (Zechariah 12:7-9 and Revelation 3:8-13)

Revelation 20:6 "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection… they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 10:03pm BST

Robert - you try in a noble way to get TA people to look on conservatives as people with genuine beliefs and faith and even humour....but I am afraid many will not listen to you and will continue to just attack anybody who does not want to give in to a particular dominating agenda.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 2:14pm BST

And of course, we know that anyone who does not agree with NP is neither honorable, have a sense of humour nor have genuine beliefs.

Just ask NP, he'll clearly explain how everyone not of his camp is humourless, without honour and lacking in beliefs...

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 10:15am BST

NP: we understand that you have 'genuine' faith and beliefs - but we just don't agree with them, and you don't appear to realise that your attempts to change our opinion has failed.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 12:59pm BST

Cheryl - the funniest thing I have seen on TA is all the fantasy about a gal called Gaia

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 1:04pm BST

"I bet there would be a few people angry if they suddenly were told that the word freehold on their house deeds actually meant leasehold."

This is not, perchance, a comment on the imploding American markets?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 6:12pm BST

Thanks NP you referred to "the fantasy about a gal called Gaia"

Thanks for another victory in my court case, you just proved one of my points.

One of my complaints to Jesus and the higher-than-human court is that your kind of theology insults Jesus' exhortations at Matthew 5:33-35 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King."

Such theology purports that heaven, the earth and Jerusalem have no consciousness nor any metaphysical imagery and desires that humanity is meant to understand. Even if they can not imagine them as entities, the symbolism of what they are meant to represent should be comprehended by God's "holiest" people. There is a bridge between the higher consciousnesses and humanity, there are the angels and cherubim, and they can annoint prophets to act as their advocates within the human realm, as the Shechina has done with me.

Please deny that too, NP, it would be yet another victory for our side.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:49pm BST

One thing that's been missed in the comments here is the loophole.

Women may be diocesan bishops, but to be assistant bishops requires a change in the relevant canons.

Sydney hasn't a leg to stand on - they've never passed the legislation to have women priests, so they can hardly block other dioceses that have passed the 1992 clarification canon. Those dioceses could elect a woman and have no legal problems, and it's unlikely any legal challenge would work, given the precedent from 15 years ago. If it came to a challenge, it is conceivable that the opposition would be split the same way as 1991/2, where bishops in different states were moving to ordain women to the priesthood. To stop this required separate legal actions in different parts of the country, effectively bifurcating the efforts to stop the ordinations happening. In the old saying, the rest is history.

It's perverse, but weirdly beautiful in its way...

Posted by: kieran crichton on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 1:59am BST
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