The website of the Anglican Church of Australia currently has the following text on it’s page that normally lists the Bishops’ Protocols:
The Bishops’ Meeting of 2016 has initiated a review of all the bishops’ protocols to ensure that they properly reflect the collegiality and fellowship of the bishops of the national Church and have removed them from this website until this review is completed. The protocols as approved in 2015 remain in place.
This morning I spoke to someone who was present at the March 2016 Bishops’ Meeting about the catalyst for these changes. A number of protocols are being reviewed. Of primary interest to readers will be 019/2014 Faithfulness in Service which was itself a revision of an early protocol directly addressing Ministerial Appointments. Some bishop were unhappy with protocol 019 seeing it as an attack upon homosexuals and thus called for a review. The protocol does not simply address matters of sexuality but all questions of right behaviour by ministers and others to be considered when appointments are made.
Other protocols requiring review include 005/2005 Protocols relating to the Ministry of the Bishop to the Australian Defence Force and Ministry within the Defence Force.
The key phrase “The protocols as approved in 2015 remain in place” was insisted upon by a Metropolitan Archbishop so as to not allow anyone to argue that the bishops were no longer bound by the protocols while they were under review.
davidould.net wonders why if all the protocols “remain in place” they don’t actually remain in place on the website? They are, however, archived online as at 15 March 2016 with working links to all the current protocols, replicated below:
REGISTER OF PROTOCOLS
We’ll let you know when the revisions are done and published.
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“This morning I spoke to someone who was present at the March 2016 Bishops’ Meeting about the catalyst for these changes.” This is very coy. What was the catalyst for these changes?
I don’t think I’ve ever been called “coy” before.
The catalyst for the changes (at least according to my source) is set out in the rest of the piece.
As I understand it, Faithfulness in Service was adopted by General Synod. All the Bishops do in the Protocol is agree to use it when licensing and appointing ministers in their dioceses. If they decide they want to change something it has to go to General Synod. If they remove it, they would be taking the very odd position that they are refusing to uphold the standards agreed upon by the General Synod for service in the Anglican Church. In some ways, the Protocol just affirms what should be the case anyway – that Bishops uphold the agreed national position on suitability for ministry.
It’s interesting the issues on which some dioceses emphasise the authority of our national bodies (Appellate Tribunal, General Synod etc) and then insist on diocesan freedom on other issues.
Yes, it’s fascinating how this all plays out. The other thing to notice is how there is an inconsistent appeal to national authorities based on what people want to achieve. The most glaring example of this is the appeal to the Appellate Tribunal to push Women Bishops through, knowing very well it would never get through General Synod.
Added to that was the inconsistent way that the Tribunal ruled on Women Bishops and Diaconal Administration. In the first they ruled that words in the ordinal ought to be construed in a very loose way (at least loose enough to allow what they wanted). But when it came to Diaconal Administration the Tribunal suddenly believed that the original intent and scope was very clearly set out in the ordinal. Who would have thought.