Dean of Brisbane Openly Repudiates Church’s Teaching on Marriage

You are currently viewing Dean of Brisbane Openly Repudiates Church’s Teaching on Marriage

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

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Frederic Speers

    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. John K

    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.

    1. Blair Martin

      “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.”

      John K, your remark is unfounded in the extreme. Have you had personal experience of meeting, worshipping with and conversing about the Gospel with any of these men at length? Greaves, Holland and in particular Catt, display the deepest understanding of the Gospel and have shown true Christian values to the “downtrodden” who come to the Cathedral and find a welcoming, open and affirming congregation.

      1. MichaelA

        If they do not preach the whole gospel to the downtrodden, then they betray them.

  3. Frederic Speers

    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. John

    I am still in shock over seeing that Holy Trinity Fortitude Valley openly let paedophiles attend church and mix with children. The Anglican Brisbane leadership are completely cut off from reality if they think that is a good idea:

    I know another denomination in Brisbane does not ever let paedophiles come back to church – the pastors will do home visits to minister to them, instead. The risk is too greta. After all of the awareness of paedophiles, it is breathtaking that Aspinall, Holland and their mates ever thought this was a good idea. Of course, one of those named in the articles, Trevor Bulled, also had links to the Oratory of the Good Shepherd gay anglo-catholic group that is also based at Holy Trinity Fortitude Valley.

    No wonder even Brisbane Anglican schools no longer trust their own Diocese to manage them, “amid concern about the handling of child sexual abuse cases and its dated school governance practices”:

    The Diocese’s slimy lawyers, like Susan Horton, must have their work cut out for them with all of these things going on, alongside the general culture of bullying that has alienated so many once-faithful parishioners. Brisbane is a very, very sad place these days.

  5. John

    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.

  6. John

    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.

  7. Frederic Speers

    There is now a debate opening up in Brisbane about legalising abortion:

    It will be interesting to see if Jeremy Greaves, Peter Catt and their “progressive Christianity” cronies stick to mainstream Christian thought or if they will try to reinvent the ethics around this too in order to appease the culture and the State.

    Perhaps it would be useful to remind Jeremy Greaves and Peter Catt that the Church has sought to protect the young from its very earliest days, as this beautiful, beautiful adaptation of the Octavius of Minucius Felix (Second Century AD) reminds us:

    The whole thing is very much worth reading in full (it is only short) but here is the relevant passage:

    “OCTAVIUS (A CHRISTIAN): … Keep in mind that if you have a child and it is a girl but you wanted a boy, or if the child is deformed, or if you simply don’t want it, what is done? You leave the child outside, exposed to die.

    CAECILIUS (A PAGAN): You know that it is far more merciful to let the baby die than to bring it up in a home where it is not wanted.

    OCTAVIUS: We do not expose our children, and you are well aware how so many of the little ones that have been left out to die have been rescued by Christians and given a home. So it’s just the opposite of what you accuse us of, Caecilius. We don’t consume human life; we rather protect and defend it.”

  8. Frederic Speers

    The more I think about it, the more the Anglican Diocese of Southern Queensland seems uncannily like the Roman Catholic Church on the eve of the Reformation:

    – There is an all-powerful, centralised hierarchy interested only I furthering their own ambitions

    – An Archbishop focused on his grandiose new cathedral whilst his diocese plunges into ethical misconduct

    – A break down in ethics

    – An abandonment of sola scriptura

    – A focus on academic fads (scholasticism back then, progressive Christianity now, that abandon Biblical truths and do not meet the needs of the people)

    – A near monopoly on training of priests by one school (Saint Francis’ College) leading to groupthink and fear amongst priests in case they say anything against the liberal Anglo-Catholic mindset. I know of a priest afraid to publish his sermons online to spread the Gospel further afield in case he says anything?wrong” that the bishop could pounce upon and use against him

    – Large homosexual cliques in the church (many of the monasteries then, groups like the Oratory of the Good Shepherd now)

    – Low level bullying, crooked priests like Jeanette Jamieson getting away with whatever they want

    – Excessive focus on the liturgy and the blasphemy of the “mass” at the expense of Biblical teaching, doctrinal truths and ethical conduct

    – Increasing biblical illiteracy amongst parishioners as a result and even the emergence of superstitions to fill the void (I know of an Anglican who believes in the Shroud of Turin for instance) and there are many people in the Diocese who have never even heard of as basic a doctrinal term as “predestination”

    – A resulting breakdown of morals as parishioners follow what their priests say instead of reading the Bible for themselves and being convicted of their own sin. Hence, many parishioners, barely understanding Progressive Christianity or American Westar Institute-style liberal theology/ideology, are led astray by these influences by an ethically-bankrupt priesthood, oblivious to the influences begin their priests’ ideology. They do not listen to the voice of their true shepherd – they would rather have it mediated through a priesthood and refuse to accept that we are all a royal priesthood in Christ Jesus and all have a responsibility to listen directly to Jesus through His Scriptures as mediated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. At least in the Middle Ages people had the excuse that the Bible was not readily available in their own language. Now it is a mixture of apathy, fear of being convicted by God’s word and a downgrading of the importance of Scriptures in the minds of the people by these liberal, Anglo-Catholic false prophet clergymen.

    At least all of this reminds us why God sent Martin Luther and why there had to be a Reformation and why the Reformers were correct on so many doctrine. It is to Brisbane Anglicans’ shame that they have not learned from the mistakes of history and have allowed their diocese to reach this disgraceful state. May God have mercy on their souls.

  9. David Mc Dougall

    Many years ago I was Rector of a small outback parish in W.A. One Saturday night I was working away preparing for the Sunday service in the little room at the rear of the shed that was our church when a man came in and asked me if he could go into the church and pray. That was OK by me and after about 20 minutes he came out and said he would like to have a chat. He started out by stating that he was a homosexual and asked what I thought about that. I replied that it was just one of the many ways of obtaining eternal damnation in hell, and he needed to repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness, regeneration and the internal power of the Holy Spirit to overcome this sin. He told me that he didn’t believe this and went on to outline the whole homosexual, world wide conspiracy to make homosexuality as acceptable as straight sexuality within about thirty years. I told him that would never happen. (Naive me!!) He then went on to tell me about homosexuals already in the church and the positions they held. He explained that they were entering the ministry of all denominations and paying for the training of homosexual candidates going through the Theological Colleges and universities. They were targeting the churches, the media, the educational establishments, the film industry, in fact anywhere they could get into. He even named names, some of which I knew. We are supporting women’s’ ordination he said, because that weakens the authority of the Bible and will enable us seek ordination of homosexuals once we get that accepted. I was ordained in Brisbane Diocese and even then the rot had set in. Some years later on I called in to see a priest in a remote part of the country and he seemed very disturbed. He told me that he had had his bishop for a confirmation a couple of weeks earlier. I then guessed what had happened. I asked him if he knew that his bishop was a homosexual and his wife a notorious lesbian, because I knew him personally. (He was a graduate of Moore College!) It turned out that the Bishop (previously the head of one of our missionary societies,) had tried to buggerise him and cut it rough when he refused. A great load lifted from his shoulders and he said “I thought it was me.” As time has gone by I have watched everything the man told me about, happening. I have tried to warn others and have even been called a crackpot. I am long retired from active ministry but in my previous parish, the female “priest” (a Moore College graduate,) one Sunday before the vote, waffled on about seeking the mind of Christ in the forthcoming vote. From the congregation I called out that the mind of Christ was quite crystal clear from His little chat with Moses when he described sexual perverts as being cursed and an abomination to him. I told her to read Romans ch1 to catch a glimpse of His attitude and what He planned to do about it. I pointed out that Jesus had said that anyone who denied Him and His words would be denied by Him on judgement day. She became very angry with me for quoting Holy Scripture and shouted “It’s idolatry to worship a book!!!” So I’m apparently an idolator for believing the Bible to be the expression of the mind of the very Creator of the universe! This is what we are up against! A reading of the recent book “Silent Invasion” by Clive Hamilton should make us all cringe about what the future holds for us here in Oz.


  10. MichaelA

    “The form of blessing we have been practising cannot be banned or outlawed by church authorities, except through dramatic action.”

    That is correct – even the orthodox believers do not have the stomach for the fight that would entail. However, the orthodox response these days tend to be different:

    Get ready for Gafcon to promote an alternative Anglican polity in Queensland, just as it has in North America, and as it has started doing in England and New Zealand.

    Rev. Catt will be left alone in the diocese of Brisbane, but a new Anglican denomination will be started in Queensland, which the faithful can attend.

    1. Frederic Speers

      MichaelA, I sadly agree. It is time.

    2. Blair Martin

      Twelve months on and Gafcon’s march is barely a crawl. The Anglican community are wise to the elitist behaviour of Sydney and similar fellow travellers. When they have seen and experienced a true expression of love and acceptance, they will not exchange that for the uncaring strictures of Gafcon.

      1. MichaelA

        One man’s crawl is another man’s run, Blair. I don’t see the point in arguing about differences of degree.

        Sorry, but its not Sydney that is “elitist”, rather those who oppose orthodox Christian teaching tend to be very elitist. The Anglican community around the world, including that part of it that is Gafcon, understand that the true expression of love and acceptance is found in faithfulness to Christ’s teaching.

Leave a Comment - but please pay careful attention to the house rules