Grafton: Bishops’ Agreement “not about appointments”

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The Diocese of Grafton has provided a very timely “2019 Synod recap” providing confirmation of the results we reported on Wednesday and, more importantly, the full text of the bishop’s answer to questions surrounding the appointment of a priest in a same-sex marriage to the Cathedral.

As we reported, the bishop was asked the following question in the light of that appointment and the 2018 Bishops’ Agreement:

1. Was the Bishop informed of the Same Sex marriage prior to licensing Ms Rogers?

2. Did the Bishop seek advice about the legalities under our constitution prior to issuing Ms Rogers a license?

3. As such an appointment has the potential to dramatically affect the life of the diocese and the potential to breach the constitution, will the Bishop make any advice received available to Synod?

Bishop Murray Harvey’s answer is lengthy and contained in the full “recap” document embedded below. The most important segments are as follows:

…the preamble [of the question] notes that the bishops have agreed to uphold the Constitutions and Canons and to move forward together by acting within the framework of the Constitutions and Canons. However, in my view, that means by not conducting blessings of Same Sex Marriages. I have clearly stated that no one is authorised in this diocese to offer blessings of Same Sex Marriages, in accordance with the Bishops’ Agreement.

Bishop Harvey is therefore applying a strict “letter of the law” application of the Agreement, even if many will consider it to be clearly against the spirit of the Agreement.

He also goes on to note that there are questions surrounding Faithfulness in Service, the national church’s guidelines on appropriate behaviours in ministry. Bishop Harvey notes an important distinction between the national guidelines and those that Grafton has adopted. The national guidelines related to sexual conduct read as follows:

Section 7 Sexual Conduct

The sexual conduct of clergy and church workers has a significant impact upon the Church and the community. Sexuality is a gift from God and is integral to human nature. It is appropriate for clergy and church workers to value this gift, taking responsibility for the sexual conduct by maintaining chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.

as cited by Bishop Harvey, emphasis his.

Harvey then writes the following:

The term Marriage as it is used here is not defined anywhere.

Here at we’re pretty sure that the church has a clear definition of marriage, not least that consistently reaffirmed by many General Synods and more than implicit in the Bishops’ Agreement.

Harvey also notes a change to the Grafton standard from the national standard,

Standard 7.4 of the Grafton version states that “Your sexual behaviour should be characterised by faithfulness and integrity”.

In effect he is arguing that since the Grafton standards are notably looser, they use the wider term “integrity” (which can be read in many different ways) rather than “chastity” which has a specific meaning.

Readers should also note that while the 2018 Bishops’ Agreement dealt directly with the question of blessings and liturgies for same-sex relationships, previous meetings had grappled with precisely the issues being discussed here. The most prominent case study before them was the appointment and public promotion of a man in an openly homosexual relationship to a position in the Diocese of Gippsland.

While Bishop Harvey was not present at any of those meetings (including the 2018 meeting) he cannot begin to pretend he is not aware of the ongoing discussion surrounding these matters and especially the clearly set out mind of the national church as emphasised by numerous motions at General Synod and bishops’ agreements and statements.

Bishop Harvey’s answer is ingenious. He relies upon a very strict legalistic reading of the agreements that is quite obviously contrary to their spirit. He may convince those in his own diocese and elsewhere who are keen to continue to push forward on this issue (not least by establishing facts on the ground like this) but his response will only further break down trust that revisionists leaders in the church sincerely intend to keep to the agreements that they have made.

One senior Anglican figure described his answer to as “outrageous”. We find it hard to disagree.

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  1. Robert Bruce

    One wonders just who do these worthies think they are fooling? They may very well be fooling themselves but do they think people of real “integrity “ (their word) in the wider church will be taken in by their sophistry? And, if they have any thought at all for their end times, do they think they will fool “the voice from the throne”? I suggest they ponder on Revelation 21, especially verse 8.
    Maybe they should get some advice from Israel Folau.

  2. Rose Figtree

    I’m getting rather heated over this nonsense with Folau. More reasons for me to have returned to Tradition as the Catholic Church has been so infiltrated by the Freemasons/Power Elite/homosexual Mafia that is selling us out to the Marxists which has been on the agenda now for the last 100 years and is coming to its final goal. —October Amazon Synod will seal the deal in destroying what is left of a sacred Tradition.

    It stinks that Go Fund Me has discriminated against Izzy. What ever he is worth has nothing to do with his right to raise funds to defend himself and run this case of unfair dismissal. I had to pay a punk an unfair dismissal fine for the right to sack him after he stole from me and told customers to F… off. The wonderful nanny state of victims had so many lawyers and unionists around the unfair dismissal table all on the payroll of the government and the union membership Marxists payroll and I was the bad guy for daring to want to run a major export and value added business. The lies and distortions of these people still ring in my head like a witch hunt with no common sense, truth or reason.

    This all stinks so badly and until we have Christian/ TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC ethics back at the Political table and the mob back taking personal responsibility for their actions we are doomed. THIS POPE surely appears to be in camp with the communists so the ONLY ANSWER is prayer and people like Martin Illes and Izzy with such unstoppable faith to reset the clock and take a fall for Christ if need be.

    If you’re an Aboriginal you can do whatever you like including raping and bashing your children and wives….with impunity … it is all white fellas fault. Wollongong university just won a court case for the right to run the Western Civilisation course. This is madness that lecturers think they can set the agenda on what we’re allowed to be taught if it does not comply to their PC Marxist ideology. The rise in the homosexual identity issue infiltrating the education of minors with their propaganda to our children is nothing but Satanic. This must stop. It’s discrimination by the mob who think they have the power at every turn to decide what can be done and what can be said.

    Fantastic for Martin to have the exposure…this is God at work! Let it rip!

    This is the email of the (LQBTQ friendly catholic) Bishop that the media are quoting as he has spoken AGAINST Israel in the most shocking terms. Thanks for heads up on Voris and Coffin…will watch. I’ve stopped watching Voris as I find it all too disturbing and have heard enough. He also does not approve of SSPX which I find so very disappointing.
    I wrote the following to a friend who thinks Izzy’s case is just contractual and he was full of ‘avarice’ for signing a second contract that prevented him from speaking . the fact that his comments have been interpreted as hate speech just shows the power of the mob. Even Peta Credlin while speaking in support of Izzy mentioned she was not in agreement of the ‘Old Testament’ style Christianity and was more of an ’New Testament’ girl. She needs to read her New Testament where there are plenty of references to hell…gnashing of teeth

    Read what this pathetic Marxist of a Bishop is saying….

    While I cannot find as yet anything from Fisher it has taken the Anglicans to speak out one religious freedom…so typical as the Catholics have all gone so PC Marxist and Pope F is just the follow on from years of this Leftist agenda.

    I have searched and can find NOTHING from Fisher. Only this article in the Catholic Weekly
    So typical of the Catholics to say that he can easily move overseas, all will be fine, he has lots of money. It stinks to high heaven. Aborigines who rape and bash their children and wives are protected as as a sacred victim species and you must not suggest they move from their slum drunken stinking remote settlements to civilised communities where support is available. Of NO…it is their right to live in community and collect the dole and live like savages and we have to send in countless welfare workers to help from within all the while spending BILLIONS and not improving the situation one bit.

    The church has become the front for the Left and nothing more. We must pray for Israel. A simple man who has shown a very brave face to the world .
    Together in Prayer….may Mother Mary intervene for us soon and bring many more into the Faith with her hand of mercy.

  3. Katherine Rainger

    The statements in the comment above about Aboriginal peoples and communities are reductionist, false, misleading and offensive. They are not relevant to the original post. I ask the moderator to reassess whether they should be allowed to stay visible.

    1. David Ould

      Hi Katherine. I rarely edit comments and I think the one that you refer to speaks for itself. I certainly don’t endorse it.

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