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May 29, 2012


Sydney Standing Committee Issue Statement on Gippsland

via SydneyAnglicans.net

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney has expressed ‘dismay’ at what it calls ‘a breach of fellowship and trust’ with the Bishop of Gippsland who has appointed a partnered gay man to a ministry position in his diocese.

The appointment was announced earlier this year in the Gippsland diocesan newspaper. The resulting controversy led to the adoption of an Australian bishops’ protocol on sexuality.

Now, Bishop John Mcintyre has announced his intention to continue such appointments, saying to his Synod “I will appoint to office in our diocese those whom I believe God is calling to minister among us….....I am willing to live with any consequences that may arise from remaining true to that commitment.”

The Standing Committee resolution ‘notes its dismay’ at the Bishop’s comments from which, it says, “it is reasonable to infer his intention to appoint, amongst others, practising homosexuals to ministry roles in his Diocese and support same-sex marriages.”

The resolution continued “Standing Committee considers that Bishop McIntyre’s earlier appointment of a practising homosexual to a ministry office and his May 18, 2012 statement represent –

(a)        a departure from the teaching of Scripture,

(b)        a departure from the Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998,

(c)        a departure from Faithfulness in Service §7.4,

(d)        a breach of the Australian Bishops’ Protocol agreed to by all Australian bishops (including the Bishop of Gippsland) in March this year,

(e)        a breach of trust and fellowship at a profound level which deeply grieves us.”

The resolution was passed at Standing Committee’s monthly meeting on 28th May.

So there it is, on the record - a catalogue of the various breaches. I wonder if a number of other dioceses will follow suit and, better yet, a number of diocesans?


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20 comments

Who is the primate of Australia? Shouldn’t he be issuing a statement as well?

[1] Posted by All-Is-True on 5-29-2012 at 06:41 AM · [top]

Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane. Yes, one might think he ought to issue a statement. We’ll see if he does.

[2] Posted by David Ould on 5-29-2012 at 07:21 AM · [top]

So what? Now that it is done, what are the consequences other than writing a statement?  This bishop should be gone!Alas, noting will happen other than writing a statement.
C’est la vie.

[3] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 5-29-2012 at 07:22 AM · [top]

SC Blu Cat Lady, who do you propose should discipline him - his presiding bishop?

[4] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 07:26 AM · [top]

Good to see that the Standing Committee of one diocese is complying with the first duty of bishops and faithful Christians generally - speak out.

We will now see whether any other dioceses follow suit. +McIntyre’s flouting of the protocol that he himself agreed to has been blatant, and without remorse. 

I wonder if there are any orthodox congregations in Gippsland who may decide to seek alternative oversight from a foreign bishop?  If the Australian bishops don’t want to have such a precedent created, they would be well advised to speak out now in criticism of +McIntyre’s unfaithfulness.

[5] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 07:49 AM · [top]

Seems to me that McIntyre has left the bishops no choice…if the orthodox Australian bishops don’t want to see their church torn into 4 or 5 pieces like here in America, they have to declare that McIntyre’s ministry is not recognized in their own dioceses, and that he has left the Anglican communion. You can’t depose McIntyre yet (if ever…oh, let’s have ‘discussions’ and stuff), but this would be feasible.

[6] Posted by All-Is-True on 5-29-2012 at 07:59 AM · [top]

All-is-true, quite right.

However, I think David is asking the question of ALL the Australian bishops, not just those that you or I would term orthodox

The protocol was agreed to by all the bishops.  So the question he asks is: Now that your protocol has been openly flouted, and by a bishop who specifically agreed to it no less, what do you intend to do about it?

[7] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 05:35 PM · [top]

That would be a start, Michael A.  I do realize that nothing…. essentially…will be done. Statements written, ministry declared as not recognized, and everything goes on the same as always. sigh.

[8] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 5-29-2012 at 05:36 PM · [top]

Let me be clear - he doesn’t have a presiding bishop.

What is wrong with “statements”?  Why aren’t they “doing something”?

What else do you suggest should be done?

[9] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 05:40 PM · [top]

Sorry, Blu Cat Lady, the tone of my last could come across the wrong way. I am not being unfriendly or carping, just curious as to what you see as being the best way to go.

[10] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 05:42 PM · [top]

Michael A,
It might be useful if you or David could lay out for us what the polity of the Church in Australia is in regards to discipline of bishops.  As I recall, the “Archbishops” are more bishops of really big dioceses, than metropolitans- which is to say, Sydney archdiocese is actually one large diocese, but does not have direct oversight of a geographic area including many dioceses.  Is this correct?
However, one assumes that even in an egalitarian place like Australia, there must be some provision for removing priests and bishops who break the rules.  So, what is the procedure, and is anyone currently working on it?
Having seen the results of 60 years of “strong statements” in TEC (going back to shouting matches over Pike that I witnessed as a kid), I am, like others here who have been through it, not sanguine about statements achieving much.  In the old days, such a statement was all it took to get someone to take the honorable route and resign, but if revisionists were honorable, they wouldn’t be bishops of a church belonging to a deity they do not believe in.
The statement, taken on its own merits, is a good one.  However, what steps are available to remove the bishop from office, which is the necessary followup to the statement?  So long as he remains in office, his personal polity has prevailed, and he can continue to lead those in his charge away from the Church.

[11] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-29-2012 at 06:12 PM · [top]

tjmcmahon, as a lay person I am not familiar with all the ins and outs of Australian canon law. David or others can probably give it to you chapter and verse.  But so far as I am aware, there is no power in +McIntyre’s metropolitan (the Archbishop of Melbourne) to remove him, nor in the Primate (++Aspinall of Brisbane) nor in General Synod or the bishops of the ACA.  I expect the power to remove him lies with his own synod or standing committee.

Note the analogy - the Global South have no power to remove K J Schori from office either. I wonder does that mean they have done nothing about her?

[12] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 06:35 PM · [top]

HI Michael A,

I don’t know the polity of the Australian Church. So My comments are made in ignorance of your church’s polity/procedures. My apologies.

I agree with TJ. Those who have been through this in TECUSA and have seen no consequences for bishops who play fast and loose with what they say and do in their role as bishop tend to be cynical that any serious consequences will happen. Sorry but it has happened that way here in the US. I hope Australian bishops have more guts to discipline one of their own. Statements from other bishops are fine and good for what they are but I doubt these statements will cause a change in behavior. Perhaps the bishop will change but what if he does not?

Agreement #2 with TJ, What is the procedure for removing a bishop from office? If this is so serious that fellow bishops are writing statements to NOT recognize his ministry, why not try and get him removed if that is possible?

Sorry, I don’t the best way to proceed. I DO know that doing anything short of the most drastic action (removal?)  will most likely result in no change in his behavior.

[13] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 5-29-2012 at 06:45 PM · [top]

Unless the powers that be can a. depose him and the cleric involved, b. dissolve the diocesan structure and assume direct rule, or c. seize all the diocesan assets, this kind of “statement” means zilch.

[14] Posted by A Senior Priest on 5-29-2012 at 06:56 PM · [top]

Michael A,
It would be unique in the Anglican world if there was no ability at the national level to remove a rogue heretic bishop- and that is what you have on your hands.  I have no doubt that the GS will discipline McIntyre in the same way that they have KJS and numerous of her colleagues.  The question is, will the Church of Australia discipline him, or is Australia another place where the Church as an organization has ceased to exist, and it is merely individual dioceses that may or may not be orthodox at the whim of their clergy?
I pray that the ACA gets its machinery in gear, else you are in for a long couple of decades, at the end of which Sydney will be in the position that S Carolina finds itself in now.  Assuming, of course, that Sydney can get its future bishops approved once there are a couple dozen Gippslands.

[15] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-29-2012 at 06:58 PM · [top]

It’s an interesting question. There is an Offences Canon (1962 with further amendments) but it would have to be used under the general heading of “Any conduct involving wilful and habitual disregard of his consecration vows”. One might argue that there has been a wilful disregard, but habitual might be difficult at the moment.

There is also an Episcopal Standards Commission and Special Tribunal which can hear complaints against a bishop for “a breach of faith, ritual, ceremonial or discipline or alleging an offence as may be specified by the Canon”. There is also a Code of Conduct. This has been a real issue for the Australian church in recent years with a particular Anglo-Catholic bishop disciplined for what amounted to bullying. The whole process was unbelievably difficult and messy and so one should assume there is a reluctance to go there again.

The other approach is to make a Professional Standards complaint to the Professional Standards Board of the diocese against the priest who is at the centre of the maelstrom - Rev David Head. Rev. Head’s life is currently ordered contrary to the standards of “Faithfulness in Service” which the Diocese has adopted (ie chastity outside heterosexual marriage) and a complaint against him would, surely be upheld. That might, some would argue, put the bishop’s position in some jeopardy.

Where anything to happen it would be a gutsy call.

[16] Posted by David Ould on 5-29-2012 at 08:38 PM · [top]

“I hope Australian bishops have more guts to discipline one of their own.”

Just to clarify the context, the history of clergy and episcopal discipline in Australia has been similar to TEC - don’t imagine that we have been different!  The process by which ordination of women as priests came to be allowed in various Australian dioceses in the early 1980s is a history of brinksmanship and open flouting of existing laws by the pro-WO party.  The bishops and clergy involved in this were never disciplined.

On the other hand, we have shown a bit more spine with respect to TEC’s shennagians in the noughties:  In 2003 a number of liberal bishops signed a document warning TEC that communion ties would be cut if V G Robinson was ordained.  Then, in 2010 when K J Schori did her tour, she was essentially ignored. 

But I was still surprised that the Australian bishops agreed to the Protocol on Sexuality. It is conservative and orthodox, and many of our bishops aren’t.  David is now pressing them as to what they are going to do about +Gippsland’s flouting of the protocol.  Its hard to tell, but it is important that those who are orthodox speak out - we cannot give the liberals the excuse that they didn’t realise what was happening.

[17] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 10:02 PM · [top]

tjmcmahon, to clarify, our archbishop doesn’t get approved by ACA.  Sydney Synod elects him and that’s it.  His assisting bishops are chosen internally as well.

[18] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 10:09 PM · [top]

MichaelA,

  David is now pressing them as to what they are going to do about +Gippsland’s flouting of the protocol.

Michael, might I just observe that I don’t consider myself to be pressing anyone - I’m just genuinely interested as to what will happen next.

Do I want something to happen? Yes, of course - as do many others.
Do I have an idea about what the mechanisms to be employed might be? Yes, I’ve outlined some of them above.
Do I think the bishops on the entire Anglican Church of Australia can well decide for themselves in their own time? Absolutely.

[19] Posted by David Ould on 5-29-2012 at 11:33 PM · [top]

Fair enough :o)

[20] Posted by MichaelA on 5-29-2012 at 11:37 PM · [top]

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