Thinking Anglicans

Australian Tribunal ruling explained

The Anglican Church of Australia has published a one page summary of the latest decision of the Appellate Tribunal.

As previously linked, the full documentation – four separate documents – of this case can be found here.

For a plain English explanation of this decision, read Muriel Porter in the Church Times Tribunal rules out Sydney’s diaconal and lay presidency.

THE highest church court in Aus­tralia, the Appellate Tribunal, has ruled that both lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist are not permitted under existing General Synod canons — contrary to claims by a 2008 resolution of Sydney Synod (News, 24 October 2008).

Since the 2008 Synod, at least one of the assistant bishops in the dio­cese of Sydney has approved diaconal presidency in his area. There is evi­d-ence to suggest that diaconal pres­idency has taken place at some Sun­day services, including pres­idency by women who, although ordained priest in other dioceses, are licensed only as deacons in Sydney diocese…

There is a further article by Muriel Porter, which will be available to non-subscribers next Friday. (Subscribers will find it now at this link.)

12 comments

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Muriel’s comment about the Australian Anglican Provincial Tribunal’s findings, which found the Sydney Diocese to be in error regarding their understanding of what constitutes diaconal (or lay) administration of the Eucharist, only serves to prove Sydney’s ignorance regarding the difference between the presiding & administering functions in the Eucharistic service.

    To the Archbishop of Sydney, and many of his clergy, there seemingly is no difference between these two functions – both being (presumably) equal and complementary functions.

    Any other Anglican clergyperson and most of the informed laity – outside of the Sydney Diocese – are fully aware of the fact that only a legally ordained priest may preside at the Anglican Eucharist; while a licensed deacon or lay-person may be authorised by the local bishop to assist in the administration of the Elements of the Sacrament – either to assist the priest in the administration or, in authorised para-liturgical situations (in Administration of Communion to the Sick, or to an assembled congregation when a priest is absent), from the reserved Sacrament – but only when there is no priest present.

    The recent ruling – against diaconal or lay presidency at the Eucharist by the Australian Province – should serve to warn the Sydney Bishops of their need to adhere to the canons of the Provincial Church in which they serve.

  • William Moorhead says:

    I’m in sympathy with Father Ron Smith’s comment, and pretty thoroughly out of sympathy with the ongoing attempts of the Diocese of Sydney to reinvent the Anglican tradition, but we might want to note that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which I believe the Diocese of Sydney highly venerates (although I’m not sure how much they actually use it), titles the eucharistic liturgy “The Order of the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.” I think thereafter the more common word is “celebration,” and the Bread and the Cup are “delivered.” In the Ordering of Deacons it says, “It appertaineth to the Office of a Deacon…to assist the Priest in Divine Service, and specially when he ministereth the holy Communion, and to help him in the distribution thereof…” So one might argue that there is an ambiguity about exactly what “administration” of the Holy Communion includes. Most of the rest of us in our own century would say that only a priest or bishop may preside at the Eucharistic celebration, although priests, deacons, lay readers, and eucharistic ministers may and do assist in the administration, delivering, or distribution of the Sacrament to the communicants. Perhaps Sydney is coming from 1662 regarding the “administration” of the Holy Communion, but it seems to me less than candid. As Humpty Dumpty said….

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    I was saddened that Ms Porter scoffed at Sydney only planting one hundred congregations!

    I repeat Sydney are logical…

    1) They do not accept women can be presbyters or Bishops.

    2) Therefore they view those women in the above orders as deacons in reality.

    3) Therefore women Sydney deacons ( and not to be sexist male deacons ) may preside at communion.

    Ron states:

    Any other Anglican clergyperson and most of the informed laity – outside of the Sydney Diocese – are fully aware of the fact that only a legally ordained priest may preside at the Anglican Eucharist

    Yet Sydney do not regard the women priests in the Anglican Church of Australia as being valid priests or that they are legally ordained.They are allowed to hold this position , as it is a position of integrity in the Anglican Communion.

    The crisis is not Sydney, but the “inclusive” compromise of the Anglican Communion.

  • Robert, if the fact that women priests and bishops are not recognized by the Sydney Diocese makes allowing for lay men and women or deacons celebrating the Eucharist “logical,” then by the same “logic” lay people should be able to celebrate Mass in the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Ron wrote: “Any other Anglican clergyperson and most of the informed laity – outside of the Sydney Diocese – are fully aware of the fact that only a legally ordained priest may preside at the Anglican Eucharist,”

    And RIW replied: “Yet Sydney do not regard the women priests in the Anglican Church of Australia as being valid priests or that they are legally ordained.They are allowed to hold this position , as it is a position of integrity in the Anglican Communion.”

    What a complete red herring, RIW. The position of Sydney has nothing to do with whether ordained women are deacons or priests. They don’t believe that *any* ordination is required to preside at the Eucharist – they aren’t offering women deacons the opportunity to preside at Mass, but rather any baptized Christian.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Absolutely not Bill, because the Roman Catholic Church teaches that all Anglican orders are not valid, whether they are held by a man or a woman..However in the context of the Anglican Church of Australia, the position of Sydney is logical.

    Furthermore historic Anglicanism allowed for the validity of non episcopal orders. Although to exclude Presbyterians this was tightened up in 1662.However even is has been relaxed in recent years , I cite the example of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

  • William Tighe says:

    If one reads carefully such studies as Norman Sykes *Old Priest and New Presbyter* (1960) or the relevant sections of Anthony Milton’s *Catholic and Reformed* (1995) one will easily see that there are two certain and three probable instances of men, foreigners, Scots and Europeans, “non-episcopally” ordained abroad, who were licensed without reordination to function as clergy in the Church of England in the period from 1570 to 1625; and that, on the other hand, Englishmen who were ordained abroad in “non-episcopal circumstances” (like Whittingham, the early Elizabethan Dean of Durham who was ordained in Geneva in the reign of Queen Mary and who was about to be ejected from his Deanery as “mere laicus” when he died ca. 1577; or Richard Travers, whose nomination as Master of the Temple was rejected ca. 1585 because he had gone abroad and been ordained by the Presbytery of Leiden) were rejected, but more because their foreign ordinations were deemed to be an implicit disparagement of the Church of England than “invalid” — all of which is a far cry from later Tractarian or even “Laudian” (cf. Richard Montague) ideas. This practice effectively ceased after 1625, and was made impossible in 1662.

    The “Whittingham case” saw a furious exchange between Whittingham and Sandys, the Archbishop of York, who attached Whittingham for being “not a priest according to the laws of England” and for his “disorderly Orders;” Sandys, although a strong Protestant, had been ordained in Queen Mary’s restored Catholic Church. Whittingham responded that his Geneva orders were more “orderly” than Sandys’ “popish Orders,” at which Sandys lost his temper and said, Knave, dost thou call me a papist; if I am a papist thou are a puritan, to which Whittingham responded in kind, that he would rather be taken for a puritan than for a papist. I take this lovely exchange to be an adumbration of the whole history of “Anglicanism” since 1559.

  • Bill Dilworth says:

    “Absolutely not Bill, because the Roman Catholic Church teaches that all Anglican orders are not valid, whether they are held by a man or a woman..However in the context of the Anglican Church of Australia, the position of Sydney is logical.”

    Robert, you are dodging the issue. The Sydney position is not logical within Anglicanism, which in spite of aberrations has never maintained that lay people can preside at the Eucharist. Jensen doesn’t think that it’s the fact that women deacons have been *ordained* that makes them eligible to preside, but rather the fact that they have been *baptized*. In the Sydney position, deacons and lay people have the same authority to preside.

    By the logic you apply, you ought to be arguing for the celebration of Mass by Roman Catholic laypeople. It has absolutely nothing to do with the validity of Anglican Orders.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Bill, Anglican orders are essential to the Sydney issue,as Sydney derives from that tradition. Anglicanism has never been absolutist in its view of non episcopal ministry, although you like the fantasy of apostolic succession and valid orders, in a roman catholic understanding.

    Remember conservative Anglicans see women priests as lay celebrants.

  • JCF says:

    “I take this lovely exchange to be an adumbration of the whole history of “Anglicanism” since 1559.” – Posted by William Tighe

    Whereas, William T, “adumbrations” of Romanism were adorned w/ the burning of the losing exchangee? O_o

    I thank God that NONE of us have to live in 1559 anymore! Come on into 2010, William: it’s the Year of Our Lord now, too…

  • JCF says:

    I sometimes think that religious extremists take extreme positions, *just to show they can*. (Thankfully, the Australian tribunal has judged otherwise)

  • “Anglicanism has never been absolutist in its view of non episcopal ministry, although you like the fantasy of apostolic succession and valid orders, in a roman catholic understanding.”

    Robert, although the Church of England and other Provinces have occasionally allowed non-episcopally ordained ministers to serve without (re)ordination, at no point did any Province think that it was alright to allow laypeople to preside, as Article XXIII makes clear.

    And it doesn’t matter what Sydney thinks of the matter; they don’t have the authority to make this innovation.

    Once again, your argument applies just as much to the RCC as it does to Anglicanism. It’s not a validity issue – it’s an authority issue.

    “Remember conservative Anglicans see women priests as lay celebrants.”

    Not so. Some conservative Anglican bodies do ordain women to the priesthood. Some conservative Anglican bodies only allow them to be ordained deacon. And some allow neither.

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