I’m getting firm indications from a number of sources close to the Australian House of Bishops that the bishops have agreed to clarify the application of Faithfulness in Service for not only initial decisions about ordination but ongoing licensing decisions.
This decision comes in the wake of many objections to the appointment as vicar of a parish of a man openly living in a homosexual relationship. For full details see our coverage here.
Some matters remain unanswered. I can’t get an official on-the-record confirmation (and there is, so far, no media release) but that’s to be expected – this is something that the Bishops (no doubt) don’t want to give more air to than necessary. Nor do we have a specific outcome for the situation in Gippsland – will Rev. Head stay or go? I suspect it’s the former.
Interestingly, the decision of the bishops neatly marries with Bishop McIntyre’s claim that the various prohibitions relate only to ordination, not subsequent licensing. An argument that some described to me as “laughable” and “insulting”. If the Bishops decision is as reported, then liberals may very well seek to present it as a tightening of the requirements but that would be to ignore the plain meaning of Faithfulness in Service - that chastity is an ongoing requirement for all ministers, not just a box to be ticked at one point in the discernment process.
What to look for next? Well an official statement would be helpful. And then we might get a response from Bishop McIntyre. Curiously, Changing Attitude Australia have been remarkably silent through the whole thing. Let’s face it, if what we’re hearing is true then this is a big loss for them.