Eternity on the Australian Bishops’ Protocol

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Eternity, a great monthly Australian church newspaper with online content. have a done a great job following up the Gippsland affair.

A “protocol” passed by the Australian Anglican Bishops reaffirms policies against gay priests and bishops passed by earlier Anglican meetings.

The “protocol” is written in a form that the ordinary reader will find hard to follow, referring to a decade and a half of discussions in the Anglican world.

“The undertaking in this protocol specifically relates to standards of behaviour required of persons being considered for ministry” a spokesperson for Phillip Aspinall, the Primate (head Bishop) told Eternity. “In effect it is an undertaking not to ordain, license, authorise or appoint persons whom the bishop knows to be in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.”

Like I said, that’s a great job – now we’ve got the Primate’s office confirming the effect of the protocol. Bishop McIntyre is still reluctant to talk about it…

Bishop McIntyre responded to Eternity’s request to get his side of the story:

“The bishops’ protocols are consensual agreements arrived at in bishops’ meetings and raised each year to ensure ongoing consensus. In that sense, they are not public documents and any discussion of them is appropriately confined only to the bishops’ annual meeting. It is my understanding that they are made public for the purposes of information, not discussion. Out of respect for my episcopal colleagues, I am not prepared to discuss the protocols outside the bishops’ meeting.”

Other bishops were more than happy to discuss them, though.

“It is heartening that the Australian bishops remain unified on this issue by once again reaffirming the Lambeth resolution on human sexuality,” Bishop Stuart Robinson of Canberra Goulburn told Eternity.

“The most accurate way of looking at this development is that it is business as usual for the Australian Anglican Church. There is no change. Along with the other Dioceses, the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn will continue to uphold faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness for its priests and deacons.”

Perhaps the cynical man would observe that the orthodox conservative bishop is happy to discuss it, the more radical unorthodox one is not.

Typically clergy have their license re-issued each year by the bishop. Even if Rev Head’s (the homosexual minister in a long-term relationship who’s appointment kicked off this crisis) position is overlooked now, what will happen next year when his license comes up for renewal? Bishop McIntyre might not want to talk about it but the protocol is pretty clear. And what about all those other homosexual clergy currently flouting Faithfulness in Service? It’s a bit hard now for diocesan bishops to turn a blind but knowing eye.

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