Skip to comments.Sydney: Church is split, declares Archbishop Jensen
Posted on 06/28/2006 5:23:21 PM PDT by sionnsar
Main Entry: pri'mate
Etymology: Middle English primat, from Old French, from Medieval Latin primat-, primas archbishop, from Latin, leader, from primus
Date: 13th century
1 often capitalized : a bishop who has precedence in a province, group of provinces, or a nation
2 archaic : one first in authority or rank : LEADER
3 [New Latin Primates, from Latin, plural of primat-, primas] : any of an order (Primates) of mammals comprising humans, apes, monkeys, and related forms (as lemurs and tarsiers)
-pri'mate-ship \-*ship\ noun
--pri-ma'tial \pr*-*m*-sh*l\ adjective
AUSTRALIA'S leading conservative Anglican has pronounced the global church officially "separated" after the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded it may have to break apart to survive the fractures over gay clergy.
The Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, aligned with rebellious evangelical prelates in Asia and Africa, said it was a historic, if not sad, moment for the church torn apart by gay clergy and gay marriage. "To use an analogy, partners have separated although they have not divorced," Dr Jensen told the Herald yesterday.
But the Australian primate, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, said Australian Anglicans should not despair. The Anglican Communion's long journey was "worth it, because the Anglican faith is worth it", Dr Aspinall said. "The Australian church has never shied away from the real difficulties caused by the sometimes great differences in certain parts of the Anglican Communion."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, conceded in a statement to the 38 national churches, representing 77 million Christians, that he could not fix the fractures over sexuality. But he offered a new model, a two-tiered structure, with churches that refuse to toe the conservative position becoming associates.
Churches willing to sign a covenant of shared doctrinal beliefs would form an inner sanctum of churches with full membership and presumably voting entitlements.
Dr Jensen said the statement by Dr Williams was late recognition of an irreconcilable split that had begun with the US church's ordination of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003. But he doubts the workability of the model. He said the Australian church would find it hard to sign such a covenant that could force it to give up its hard-won autonomy.
He sees the global church evolving into a loose federation where geographical boundaries are eroded and networks of alliances develop between dioceses.
The Canterbury statement is unlikely to have any immediate implication for the Australian church because its 2004 synod resolved not to proceed with the blessing of same-sex relationships or the ordination of openly gay bishops in respect of the church's "ongoing conversation".
Nor, Dr Aspinall said, would the statement instantly fix the church. "While the Canterbury document is a way to get the international church talking, it isn't a list of instant solutions or demands, nor are the ideas floated new."
The Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, a leading liberal, says Dr William's model recognised the church's structure. But he disputed Dr Jensen's comparisons of the church to a marital split.
"Jesus said, I choose you, you did not choose me," he said. "If, in fact, God chooses us, I don't think we have a choice of who we live with or disagree with."
The call by Dr Williams for a looser federation came after the American church failed last week to meet the demands of conservatives to repent their ordination of a gay bishop or risk their expulsion from the world church.
"There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment," he said. "Neither the liberal nor the conservative can simply appeal to historic identity that doesn't correspond with where we now are."
The 37 primates will discuss the model at their February meeting.
[Archbishop Herft, you and the Rev. Jacqueline Means, quoted following, need to get your liberal stories straight. --sionnsar]
The Rev. Jacqueline Means: If we all cant sit at the table, then those who have a problem with that need to find another table.
Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney has issued his response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's "Reflections on the Anglican Communion." Archbishop Jensen certainly makes an interesting point in this portion:
Among other things, Dr Williams has recognised the following:So far I would say the Archbishop of Sydney is being realistic about this situation; actually Rowan Williams is probably being realistic too, but he is having to perform a balancing act in several ways.
First, a separation within the Communion is inevitable. To use an analogy, partners have separated although they have not divorced. This is recognised in his categories of constituent churches and churches in association with the Communion.
Second, the Archbishop has made it very clear that this whole controversy is, at a fundamental level, about the authority of the Bible, and the way in which we learn and follow Gods will in fellowship with each other. The presenting issue may be human sexuality but the real issue remains the word of God.
Thirdly, the Archbishop has spoken of the need of a covenant to hold the constituent churches together and for new institutions to develop.
In talking like this he seems to be more optimistic than I would be. Rather than looking into the mid-term future with hopes for the development of new covenants and institutions, I think we need to be looking at the realities of the present situation, and recognising the need to accept the new relationships that have occurred.
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