Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 16 May 2018

Craig D’Alton humane catholic An alternate statement on marriage equality, which could have been made by the Anglican bishops of Australia, but wasn’t …

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau New directions for the church 1: whose kingdom come?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Bishops as Managers – Empathy begins to die

David Walker ViaMedia.News Lost in Translation – Speaking in Differing Tongues


  • John Wallace says:

    Tessa Jowell RIP. A great politician who signified the best in Labour politics. The Guardian obituary mentions that ‘unusually, she was confirmed as an adult in 1996.’ She was nearly 50. She epitomised what is best about the involvement of Christianity and Political Action.

  • Fr.Craig d’Alton’s ‘Alternative Statement’ that might/ought to have been issued by the Australian Anglican House of Bishops reflects a situation which looks probable for my Church in New Zealand (ACANZP). Those in our General Synod who hope for an eirenic outcome from the debate on ‘Motion 29’ – which took place recently in New Plymouth – are awaiting a decision on how the passage of the new legislation will be worked out in practice in NZ.

    Australia’s actual negative outlook for same-sex blessings will not, we hope, affect New Zealand’s hope for the blessing of same-sex civil marriages and civil partnerships for committed church people in our churches. However, how and where such blessings may take place is still a matter for our House of Bishops to reach an agreement on

    Noting Fr. Craig’s earlier statement on the ‘problems of Jensenism’ (the Sola Scriptura ethos of Sydney Anglicanism, through which former Abp. Peter Jensen became a prime mover of the GAFCON movement which has caused schism in the Anglican Communion), one can see the sort of homophobic opposition there is in the Diocese of Sydney to any sort of accommodation to the prospect of S/S Blessings in that province.

    Although there are clergy in New Zealand who are the product of Sydney’s Moore College, who have already formed a local branch of FOCA(NZ) the offspring of GAFCON; one can only hope they will not inhibit the local desire to overcome the culture of anti-gay prejudice that M.C. promotes.

  • John Bunyan says:

    The Australian bishops have a “positive outlook” regarding marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those who support them in that view are not all necessarily “homophobic”, the kind of language that does not help, nor all “guilty of anti-gay prejudice”, and they do not necessarily oppose the recognition or even blessing of same sex unions. The Constitution of the Church of Australia would not allow the bishops to make the changes suggested by the Revd.Craig D’Alton. I presume that would need a Canon of General Synod which would come into effect in any particular Diocese when approved by the Synod of that Diocese. For better or worse, depending on one’s point of view, there is no prospect of such a Canon being approved by General Synod.

  • Kate says:

    ‘Those who support them in that view are not all necessarily “homophobic”,’

    My position is very simple. Those who feel that way about same sex marriages are entitled to that view but anyone who does something contrary to Yogyakarta + 10 is homophobic / transphobic. I understand YK+10 is directed to states but it still sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTI people. In denying gay people the right to form a family in accordance with *their* religious views, the bishops are being homophobic.

    The Australian bishops and those who support them have a right to their views but they do NOT have a right to not be labelled homophobic for that view.

  • Jo says:

    I rather think that homophobic is as homophobic does. Treating gay people abysmally and then complaining when you get called homophobic is absurd.

  • Peter S says:

    John Bunyan – it’s not as cut and dried as that in Australia. On the one hand the Church Law Commission is due to report to the Standing Committee of General Synod on the implications of the marriage equality legislation for the church and it remains to be seen whether a Canon would be necessary. On the other hand there’s an argument to be made that the Fundamental Declarations of the Constitution would prevent change depending on how one reads the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to which they refer.

    There is a much simpler pastoral and theological solution that wouldn’t require any legislation: Anglican clergy voluntarily surrender their marriage licences, stop doing any legal weddings, and offer a blessing to all who come. Couples of any gender can go to the registry office or get a civil celebrant to do a ceremony at the cafe over the road first. And given that fewer than 1 marriage in 50 is now celebrated by an Anglican minister, it’s probably about time to do this anyway.

  • Brian Ralph says:

    I am a refugee from Sydney Diocese who regrets my long years growing up there. The Sydney mob (I went to university with the Jensens) are homophobes and they spread their bile overseas. The local archdeacon of Dunedin who is vicar of the most evangelical church here has resigned, with immediate effect, from the role of archdeacon. Our bishop did not give the reasons but I can guess, knowing his outspoken views and within a week of the decision by the Aotearoa New Zealand Synod to allow blessings of same-sex marriages. I once joked on my blog that I saw him in the coffee shop and felt like throwing the cup over him but that would be a waste of good coffee. The curate in my parish at the time took me to task for such unchristian views. My comment and feelings would be the same if he opposed interracial marriage. These people, Mr Bunyan, are homophobes and it should be shouted from the rooftops. The time has come to end pussyfooting around. The church as always shows itself to be a hindrance to social development despite the wonderful work of many of its members to bring about change.

  • We know all too well that name calling has made a long, highly toxic and often violent contribution to this debate. So I wonder what we hope to achieve by paying back in kind and labelling people ‘homophobic’. What do we hope to achieve? Being called a name does not generally dispose me to re-examine my own convictions so I do not expect it change anyone else’s mind either.
    I also note that where a person’s questions or convictions are centred around theology and biblical interpretation that is where they need to be met.

  • John Bunyan says:

    It does not help anyone by making wild generalisations about Sydney Diocese even about its clergy who are still not completely monochrome,let alone the laity of this vast Diocese. I grew up in Sydney Diocese and have served in it, mainly as a rector in a lower middle-class parish, from 1978 to 2001 when I retired from parish ministry. As ancient (82), agnostic, unitarian, and C.of E., I deeply regret the radical and neo-puritan character of many parish clergy, their lack of Anglican liturgy, their ignoring of many of the canons, the diocesan invasion of other dioceses, the intolerance of anything except a very narrow conservative evangelicalism, and much else. However, there are many good things being done in the Diocese, and many, many good people, whatever their views on questions of sexuality about which too many seem to have been obsessed and for far too long. At the hospital where I have been hon.C.of E.chaplain for almost 20 years (needless to say, without diocesan authorisation though holding the Archbishop’s Licence), I had 78 patients on my lists today and I saw as many of them as possible, some at the end of their lives, some in Emergency or Intensive Care, some in great pain, some with intractable problems, some with comparatively minor maladies – only one I think complaining to me, sadly very few with local ministers coming to visit. They are the people with whom I am concerned – and the staff of whom of course I also encounter many (and as it happens, at the moment concerned also for my brothers, two critically ill and facing death, the third with early Parkinson’s and Menier’s &c, and a sister-in-law with pancreatic cancer). To some who comment, I would say – yes, there are those who suffer because of their sexual orientation – but let’s get things in proportion – let’s get real. If someone wants to describe EVERYONE who believes marriage is between a man and a woman as “homophobic” (and I suggest that one examine the meaning of this word), i.e. the vast majority of the world’s population, they can do so but that will achieve nothing, as David Runcorn notes, and is simply nonsense. (Typed late at night Australian time : joy – and less fed-up-ness cometh in the morning !)

  • Laurie Roberts says:

    Keep on insisting on hetero-normative language, in addition to the many other ways gay people are discriminated against in Church and State, today — keep kocking us down !

    I have nearly 70 years of this ! I know you and others think I am inferior -yes, it is that personal and real.

    Talk about getting real !

  • Kate says:

    If a white supremacist Christian believes, on the basis of how they read the Bible, that only white people should be married in church, are we seriously saying they are not racist? I am pretty certain most people would recognise that as racism and would want it described quite vocally as racism. But it is exactly the same as telling same sex couples they can’t marry in church. Neither is more or less acceptable than the other.

    The harm isn’t in calling people homophobic but in normalising their discrimination by failing to do so.

  • Brian Ralph says:

    You are not alone, Mr Bunyan in caring for the aged. Although not a priest mainly because I saw my rector in a suburb of Sydney in the 1960’s suffer several nervous breakdowns despite the wonderful youth work he carried out in the parish. In those days I only had a vague understanding that he had the same conflicts due to sexual feelings as I did,. Eventually he left parish work, became an administrator for CMS but finally committed suicide.
    Each Sunday I take 2 ladies over 90 years old to church. Some mornings I have to finish dressing them because their carer has not arrived in time. They have children who express their gratitude to me but either live too far away or openly tell me they cannot bear going to a church service. It is the only reason I go to church regularly. As they are deaf and have some early dementia, they tell me they do not understand the sermons. I think most of it is rubbish. I also co-ordinate a group (more than 30) of mostly women over 60 as we hike each week. While they are obviously much fitter, most are widows and it can involve some caring when they become il. It is to them I will turn if I become ill. In fact most never go near a church yet care for each other more than a lot in church who are only interested in praying for one’s soul. I have been surprised, as I have become more open in my views to find older people who go to church quite often, agree when I tell them I know longer believe in an after life nor a God who answers prayer. Like me they go to church because that is the way they grew up, they like the ceremony and the music and meet their friends. Whatever they personally believe they do not want to impose their views on others or, as for some in NZ, walk out in a huff when they discover their views are in the minority.
    As a young person I struggled between the things I was taught and my obvious self feelings. Today I would say to a young person “Forget the church, it is an irrelevant dying organisation.”
    I have just noticed the comment “yes, there are those who suffer because of their sexual orientation”
    The only reason I have suffered is because of the Church and its teachings. Young GLBTI people today have a chance to marry, have families and generally lead a happy life as long as they ignore most of the churches. I use to say the only time I feel I am a 2nd class citizen is when I enter a church or go back to my birth country. Now thankfully I am not ashamed to use my Australian passport although I am much prouder to use my NZ one.

  • Dear John Bunyan,

    I entirely agree that the Anglican Diocese of Sydney – though predominantly conservatively Evangelical – is not entirely of that ethos. However I do beleve that, written within it’s Evangelically-aligned constitution, there still remains a rubric that no ‘minister’ (priest) may wear the chasuble for celebration of the Holy Communion. This is why, in certain parishes with an Anglo-Catholic tradition – like St. James, King Street and Christchurch St. Laurence, the priest wears a cope to celebrate the Mass.

    It does seem that Sydney is dominated by what has been called the ethos of ‘Jensenism’, by virtue of the fact that the Jensen Family, of whom the most notable was former Archbishop Peter Jensen who now retains the Secretaryship of the GAFCON separatist movement, and of which he was one of the original members; has exercised a pervasive influence in its connection with Moore Theological College. It was notable that the Sydney diocese dedicated the huge sum of one million Australia dollars in the recent campaign against Same Sex Marriage in Australia.

    In complete contrast; the inner city parishes of Saint James and Christ Church St.Laurence on the other hand, are eirenic outposts of the more open catholic strand of the Anglican Tradition – open to the recent devopment of the ordained minisry of women and LGBT+ people in the Church.

  • Kate You are comparing a noun with an adjective. Racism is behaviour based upon a belief in the inferiority of another community or race, founded upon a philosophy, theology or ideology. A phobic response is based on emotional fear, dread or disgust. It is not rational. It can be involuntary. I know people who theologically support the full inclusion of people in same sex relationship and marriage but whose life-long social experience has left them with deep emotional/anxious responses that you can call ‘phobic’. I have also journeyed with many folk among whom I do not detect phobic anxiety about same-sex relationships but are struggling with how the bible can be read to support full inclusion. I know many on that theological journey who now celebrate that wider community. To have simply labelled them ‘homophobic’ for their theological conservatism would be as inaccurate as it would unhelpful. That is the point I am making.

  • Kate says:

    David, I think your grammatical pedantry misses the point. If a minister refuses to marry a couple because they are black it is irrelevant to the couple what beliefs the minister holds: they were turned away because they were black. Similarly, if a minister refuses to marry a same sex couple it is irrelevant to the couple what beliefs the minister holds: they were turned away because they were a same sex couple.

    You are falling into the trap of looking at it from the minister’s viewpoint rather than the couple’s. It really doesn’t matter whether the minister hates gay couples, likes gay couples but believes the Bible won’t permit marriage, or is simply doing as his/her bishop orders. The effect on the couple is identical and indistinguishable from the effect on a couple turned away because of their race.

  • Brian Ralph says:

    David, my initial degree was in economics and education so not strong on grammar, however my post graduate degree was in information science so I have done some research. Yes, a phobia does imply an emotional fear and may not be what we want to describe although I wonder about those who immediately give up their positions in the church just because the church now allows some to have their same sex marriages blessed in that church. Apparently the better terms are heterosexist which is better applied to institutions or sexually prejudiced. I feel that if I told a person they were racist I would get my point across, telling them they were sexist not quite so much and telling them they were sexually prejudiced would not convey my feelings of loathing for them when they state that I do not have the same rights as other human beings to enter into a committed sexual partnership due to my sexual orientation.

  • Kate My contribution to this discussion was to urge care in the use of names and labels when engaging with folk who disagree with us on these issues. Ironically you have responded by calling me a name! I am not missing your point. I am not sure you have engaged with mine actually. Instead you keep discussing marriage. I may be misunderstanding you. If so I am sorry. May I ask you to consider you may be misunderstanding me. But I suspect we significantly disagree about the appropriate use and meaning of the term ‘homophobic’.

  • Flora Alexander says:

    We have to accept the reality that language changes and the meanings of words often vary from the original significance of their roots. Also, words mean what people use them to mean. I would prefer to say ‘heteronormative’, but ‘homophobic’ has become the standard word for anyone who wants to discriminate against LGBTQI people on grounds of sexuality. There is little to be gained by protesting about ‘name-calling’. It would be more constructive if those who wish to deny rights to LGBTQI people were to reflect on the inconsistency that some churches will accept remarriage after divorce, and sexual activity before marriage, while continuing to deny same-sex partners the right to marry. It may be that their thinking is influenced by the notion of ‘complementarity’, a concept that does not stand up well to rigorous examination.

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