Skip to comments.Sydney Archbishop's Visit likely to stir same-sex spat
Posted on 04/29/2006 5:29:58 PM PDT by sionnsar
CHRISTCHURCH (April 29)--A New Zealand visit by one of the Anglican Church's most controversial leaders is expected to stir debate over the ordination of practising homosexuals.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, has polarised Anglicans globally by calling on the church to declare homosexual practices a sin.
Disputes over homosexuality, including gay priests and bishops and same-sex unions, have rocked the church worldwide.
Jensen, as head of the conservative Sydney diocese, has emerged as a leader of the evangelical section of the world's 78 million Anglicans.
He has said acceptance of homosexual practices "would be to call holy what God calls sin to be repented from".
Next month, Jensen will speak at a Christchurch conference called Communion in Crisis: The Way Forward for Evangelicals (Anglicans who see the scriptures as the ultimate authority within the church).
Jensen will also preach at an evangelistic rally in Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, May 14. The visit will follow the General Synod being hosted in Christchurch from May 6 to 12.
Jensen was invited by the vicar of St John's Church in Latimer Square, Wally Behan, to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Christchurch diocese.
Recognising that the homosexual issue could also polarise New Zealand Anglicans, Behan asked Jensen to stay on and address a two-day conference.
"This is the one that has the potential to divide the church," Behan said. "There's a sense that Anglicans are hearing reports of crisis in their communion and there's a sort of nervousness.
"We want to bring Peter Jensen here to encourage evangelicals in this time of crisis and suggest some ways forward as evangelicals in the church."
Jensen's visit is expected to be the most controversial since that of radical American Bishop John Spong, whose outspoken liberal views on sexuality and theology issues shook the pulpit in 2003.
Nearly 30 outraged vicars signed a protest statement claiming Spong's views were destroying the Anglican faith.
The homosexuality issue has carved a deep rift in the church since 2003, when one United States diocese chose an actively gay priest as its bishop and a Canadian diocese decided to offer blessings for same-sex couples.
Leaders in the conservative churches of Africa, Asia and South America - home to most of the world's Anglicans - threatened to cut relations.
The church brought some breathing space by commissioning a report, which called for a moratorium on the ordination of openly gay bishops and same-sex blessings.
Behan, an evangelical, said he agreed with Jensen that it was wrong for a practising homosexual to be ordained as a bishop.
"Homosexuality itself is a sin from the scriptures," he said.
"This visit is to encourage evangelicals in the Anglican Church that they can still be orthodox-believing Anglicans. Even though liberalism still dominates much of the Western Anglican Church at the moment, we have no need to feel out of step or nervous about our orthodoxy. We can remain Anglicans, true to our Anglican tradition."
Anglican Bishop of Christchurch Dr David Coles said Jensen was a bishop in good standing and therefore the cathedral was opened to him, as it was to Spong.
"I am attending the service which he is speaking at. I'll be offering some hospitality to him and his wife when they are here. And I am going to attend the conference as well," he said.
Coles, who admits he is more liberal than Jensen, said he may disagree with him on some issues but he wanted to hear his views.
"We have a freedom-of-speech kind of policy. We don't muzzle people and we encourage open discussion," said Coles.
The Anglican Dean of Christchurch, Peter Beck, welcomed Jensen's visit to the cathedral.
"The cathedral is the cathedral for the whole diocese. We warmly welcome the diversity of theological voices of our Anglican Church," he said.
"Archbishop Jensen is an archbishop of our church and I am delighted that I will be able to welcome him to the service which is being arranged by the people of St John's, Latimer Square."
Avonhead vicar Archdeacon Mike Hawke, an evangelical, said Jensen would be preaching to a specific audience.
"The controversy comes when someone wants to rewrite the Bible," he said.
"This guy wants people to study the Bible as it is, rather than to put their own interpretation on it."
"The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, has polarised Anglicans globally by calling on the church to declare homosexual practices a sin."
LOL! I think it was those who wished them declared NOT a sin who polarized the Aglican global community.
What a surprise! Domestic violence among the "same-sex affectionate" is much more prevalent than among the general breeding population.
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