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AUSTRALIA: ACNA Consecration Fallout

AUSTRALIA: ACNA Consecration Fallout

By John Martin
September 4, 2017

The June 7 consecration of Andy Lines as an ACNA missionary bishop for the United Kingdom and Europe continues to make waves, not least in Australia. Four Australian bishops have asked their primate, the Most Rev. Philip Freier, to request a judgement from the Appellate Tribunal the (church's court of appeal) on whether the three bishops who took part in the consecration violated the Australian church's constitution.

The letter of complaint is signed by Bishops Andrew Curnow (Bendigo), Kay Goldsworthy (Gippsland, recently elected Archbishop of Perth), Bill Ray (North Queensland), and John Stead (Willochra).

"Archbishop Glen Davies and Bishop Richard Condie participated in the consecration of a bishop for Europe in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), a church that is not a member of the Anglican Communion and is not in communion with the Anglican Church of Australia," they wrote.

"We believe that this action raises fundamental questions of ecclesiology in respect of the Anglican Church of Australia. Failure to have the questions which arise from the actions of the Archbishop of Sydney, the Bishop of Tasmania, and the Bishop of North West Australia properly determined will mean that our fellowship in the college of Bishops will be gravely impaired," the letter said.

Archbishop Freier wrote to his colleagues before the consecration, asking that they not participate.

Tensions about the participation of Australians in the Lines consecration will affect sessions of the Australian General Synod, meeting Sept. 4-8 in Maroochydore, Queensland.

Child protection will be one of the most pressing issues under consideration, and is casting a long shadow. A Royal Commission drew attention to serious failures, in particular in the Diocese of Newcastle.

The consecration is unlikely to be directly debated on the floor of the synod. It does, however, raise issues for relationships within the House of Bishops.

There are precedents for irregular consecrations within Anglicanism. Not least of these is Sydney's long-standing support of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (formerly the Church of England in South Africa), which has included participation in consecrations.


Bishops taken to court of appeal in Australian Anglican feud
Archbishop Freier has asked the church's Appellate Tribunal to rule on the dispute

By Harry Farley
September 1, 2017

A feud between Australian Anglican leaders has boiled into the open with three bishops referred to an appeals court over a dispute surrounding the church's response to gay marriage.

The Archbishop of Sydney, the Bishop of Tasmania and the Bishop of Northwest Australia took part in a ceremony in June to consecrate rebel bishop Andy Lines offering 'alternative oversight' to conservatives disaffected by the perceived liberal drift of Anglican churches in Europe.

But fellow Australian bishops objected to their role, questioning whether it breached church law to appoint someone outside the official worldwide Anglican Communion.

Now Australia's top bishop, Philip Freier, the Archbishop of Melbourne, has referred their complaints to the church's court of appeal who will offer a legal judgement.

Urging their boss to act, the Bishops of Bendigo, North Queensland, Gippsland and Willochra, say their conservative colleague's part in the ceremony 'raises fundamental questions of ecclesiology' and threatens to make relations between bishops 'gravely impaired'.

The church's Appellate Tribunal will now give a legal view on the fallout but cannot hand down direct punishment on disciplinary action.

The legal war between the bishops is likely to overshadow the church's synod, which will meet in just a few days time from 3-9 September. It comes as Australia is split by a vicious political debate on whether to allow gay marriage.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Glen Davies, the Bishop of Tasmania, Richard Condie, and the Bishop of Northwest Australia, Gary Nelson, were among the 11 primates, three archbishops, and 13 diocesan bishops from member churches of the Anglican Communion who participated in the ceremony in Wheaton College, Illinois, on June 30.

He was consecrated by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a splinter body from the official Anglican church in the US -- The Episcopal Church with other leaders from around the world taking part.

Davies, justifying his role, said he felt compelled to after the Scottish Episcopal Church, another member of the 80-million strong Anglican Communion, voted to allow gay marriage.

'As you will all know, I consider such an action to be a travesty of the rule of Christ, of the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer, and therefore abandonment of the principles of Anglican doctrine,' he wrote.

'I consider that such a departure from the teaching of Scripture, 'the ultimate rule and standard of faith', casts doubt upon the nature of our communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church.'

Condie also wrote openly before the ceremony, apologising 'for any unintended hurt caused to our collegial relationships' but saying he had to act.

'The consecration is an emergency measure to protect the precious gospel of Jesus Christ, his authoritative word in the scriptures, and faithful Anglicans who have been marginalised by this schismatic behaviour... So-called 'cross-border interventions' by bishops into other dioceses are to be shunned in normal circumstances. However, when the gospel is at risk, these kinds of unusual measures are needed.'

It comes after Freier, their superior, urged his bishops not to take part.

'I take the view that communion -- koinonia, is a gift of our Lord to his Church and that in our context it is the Anglican Church of Australia, through its constitution and the framework it establishes, that determines how this is expressed in practical terms,' he wrote.

He added it was not 'for us individually, acting independently, to determine with whom we are in communion or to act unilaterally to that end. I do not think that it is for individual dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia to determine with whom we, as members of that Church, are in communion. We must act in accordance with the Constitution that binds us as the Anglican Church of Australia.'

Lines had his permission to officiate withdrawn by Southwark diocese after his consecration.

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