In a move that will clearly exacerbate tensions in the Anglican Church of Australia, the Primate (Archbishop Philip Freier) has referred to the Appellate Tribunal a number of questions concerning the recent attendance by Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney and Bishop Richard Condie of Tasmania at the recent ACNA consecration. Bishop Gary Nelson, of North West Australia, is not named in the questions.
A full set of documents follows in chronological order.
The Appellate Tribunal is acknowledged to be a somewhat politicised vehicle. It was the mechanism by which some bishops sought and gained validity for the consecration of women in the face of repeated rejection by the General Synod. It’s findings are viewed in some parts of the national church are binding decisions as though it were a final court of appeal and in other places as merely another opinion.
The lead signatory on the letter to Archbishop Freier is Bishop Andrew Curnow of Bendigo. Bishop Curnow has been a critic of Sydney Diocese in particular and conservative theology in general and is the author of the General Synod’s Viability and Structures report which was presented at the 2014 meeting and is due to be considered again at next week’s meeting.
The referral to the Appellate Tribunal only a few weeks before General Synod opens is interesting timing. The Synod’s main pressing business is to pass legislation responding to the recent Royal Commission on child abuse. However, in the background is the topic of sexual ethics and marriage being brought to a head by the current political debate in Australia and, perhaps, catalysed by the election this week of Kay Goldsworthy as Archbishop of Perth. Goldsworthy is a known supporter of changing the church’s position on marriage and indicated as much in her first media interview since the appointment was announced. Goldsworthy is one of the signatories on Curnow’s letter.
davidould.net has received these documents from a number of sources around Australia.
Reporting also at Anglican.Ink
A spokesman for Archbishop Davies stated he had no statement to make at this time, but stood behind his June letter detailing his reasons for participating in the consecration. A source at the diocese who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the archbishop or diocese noted there was a degree of disquiet among the Sydney leadership over the course taken by Bishop Curnow and his compatriots. While Drs Davies and Condie had kept the primate, Dr. Freier, fully informed of their plans and had had communicated with him before they acted, Bishop Curnow and his colleagues had not shown the same courtesy to Drs. Davies and Condie.