In an opinion piece published in the Brisbane Times the Dean of Brisbane, Peter Catt, is the latest senior Anglican clergyman to openly challenge the Anglican Church of Australia’s position on marriage. His piece is interesting in that it lays down an implicit challenge to those who would oppose him:

The form of blessing we have been practising cannot be banned or outlawed by church authorities, except through dramatic action. These blessings have been conveyed by the people of faith communities through the offering of hospitality, the practice of inclusion and the celebrating of the life events of gender- and sexuality-diverse people.

That “dramatic action” would involve some form of disciplinary procedure; something which is highly unlikely to occur in Catt’s case (despite his admission in the piece to having personally been involved in at least one “liturgical” recognition) given that his ordinary, Archbishop Philip Aspinall, is widely understood to be supportive of Catt’s position.

Catt also employs a novel argument calling on a “sensus fidelium” which he curiously locates not in the church itself but in the wider Australian population:

Last year’s vote on marriage equality revealed the strength of the developing positive sensus fidelium in Australia around the formal blessing of the relationships and marriages of gender and sexually diverse people.

As well as this brief unusual gambit he also falls back on an appeal to individual conscience and a very recent Australian precedent in the Diocese of Wangaratta’s recent motion and the fact that “the Anglican Cathedral Council in Grafton has encouraged the Dean to offer blessings to gender and sexuality diverse couples married by Civil Celebrants”.

Catt, already well-known as a public advocate for revision of church doctrine, is part of what now appears to be a coordinated campaign of Australian church leaders openly defying both the 2017 General Synod statements on marriage and the 2018 bishops’ agreement. Having been comprehensively defeated in both arenas they are now pursuing an agenda of encouraging open defiance of those agreements in the name of “conscience”. They will no doubt be encouraged in this move by what has been widely recognised as an ineffective reaction by the Primate to his own clergy participating in same-sex weddings. understands that there is very likely to be no disciplinary action taken by conservatives at the clergy level. However, we have every expectation that if a bishop should step over the line now firmly established by both General Synod and the House of Bishops that official complaints and disciplinary procedures will be entered into at the episcopal level. The motivation to do so in a clear and unequivocal way is surely further bolstered by the recent GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem and it’s clear “Letter to the Churches“. This may deter bishops from taking unilateral action (and Wangaratta certainly appears to be rapidly lining up to be a test case) but it does not deal with clergy like Catt now feeling free to chart their own course, confident that their own bishops will not seek to rein them in.

image: Herald Sun



6 comments on “Dean of Brisbane Openly Repudiates Church’s Teaching on Marriage

  1. Philip and Rurik, in a sense, the Anglican Church has always been like that – it makes rules and then completely ignores them. Read through all the Lambeth Resolutions made by the bishops over the last 100 years and see how many are actually being upheld in your diocese. It won’t be very many. 🙁 🙁 🙁

  2. None of this surprises me. The Anglican Diocese of Southern Queensland, with its mix of anglo-catholicism and loopy liberalism, has always twisted the gospel to suit the culture, instead of standing firm in Christ’s truth.

    None of the leaders: Peter Catt, Jonathan Holland, Phillip Aspinall, Jeremy Greaves, are very Christian at all in my experience and none of them demonstrate very much fidelity to the Gospel.

    As for the Rpyal Commission, why have it if the whole thing is going to be a whitewash? It is disgusting that Jonathan Holland’s father and the other bishops are going to get away with it. Still it is unsurprising given the bevy of lawyers they hide behind.

    Remember this scandal from a few months ago about how enmeshed the Anglican Diocese of Southern Brisbane is with the legal community?

    They are very much the Establishment’s church and will trample on anyone – even their own parishioners – to get their way and uphold the Establishment view. Never mind the poor and downtrodden of Jesus. I know people who have been bullied by the Diocese and I have to say it is one of the more corrupt institutions I have encountered. They still have the mindset it is the Sir Joh era and they can do what they want, even as their numbers are in free-fall and their bankrupt, intellectually-vacuous liberal theology and culture of bullying and legalism drives even more people away. It is heartbreaking to see the Diocese come to this under Holland, Greaves, Aspinall and their friends.

  3. Very true, John. Let’s not forget the Royal Commission has cleared Aspinall himself too, despite some VERY dubious testimony from him. The cross-examiner was poking some very large holes indeed into his story.

    The whole thing feels very much like a whitewash.

    Yes, I know about the bullying nature of the Diocese and how they hide behind their lawyers/Establishment mates. It is good to see more and more people starting to speak out about what has been going on in Brisbane. I long for the day when churchmen of integrity can preach the Gospel without fear again.

  4. To go back on topic, I wonder about the arrogance of Peter Catt and the progressive theologians. Do they really think they know more than all of the great theologians before them? Do they really think they and their American Westar Institute friends are the intellectual equal of John Calvin, Jean Daille, Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and so many, many others before them? Can they not see how they are blind people heading straight into a dead end and leadng a whole diocese with them. Fortunately, they will soon be long forgotten while the great theologians of the reformation and beyond will endure. I am also certain that there will eventually be a huge backlash against the gay fad when the pendulum swings back the other way, whether that be in ten years’ time or 100. The result will be diastrous for trendy, “progressive theology” dioceses that followed this faddish, anti-intellectual instead of maintaining their fidelity to the Gospel, akin to when the Anglican Church was discredited for promoting war and empire in 1914-18, from which it has never really recovered either. Sad days are coming.

  5. More breaking news was coming in even as I wrote that last comment. Uniting Church will give ministers freedom of conscience to perform same sex marriages of they wish.

    This is… unusual: “The 265-member assembly approved two separate definitions of marriage, which it said will be “equal yet distinct”.”

    No doubt Peter Catt, Phillip Aspinall, Jinathan Holland Jeremy Greaves and their mates will be rubbing their hands with glee when they read this as they will now have a precedent to follow. It will be a race to see who is quickest to the city of Sodom (and eventual destruction) now. 🙁 Stand firm, faithful Christians, even when your leaders attempt to lead you astray. Listen only to the gospel of Christ and sound theology that has stood the test of time.

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