Monthly Archives: September 2007

Family Time Break

Dear Reader,

Thanks for visiting Sentire Cum Ecclesia! It’s school holidays here in Victoria, and we have set aside the next week for “family time”. So (by command of SWMBO–as Rumpole would say) there will be NO BLOGGING until Monday 8th of October.

And as the yankies say: “You all be coming back then, ya hear?”


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The Anti-Football League

The Anti-Football League

Yes folks, I am now sporting one of these rather nifty little lapel badges and doing my bit for the Anti-Football League (AFL for short). For those of you who are “out of town”, Melbourne is the home to a rather eccentric form of “football” called “Aussie Rules”. Tomorrow is Grand Final Day, which is bigger than “Cup Day” except it doesn’t get a public holiday. I am doing my bit. I have organised the Victorian Catholic Ecumenical and Interfaith Conference for the afternoon!

Seriously, I am praying for the Geelong team tomorrow. I am doing this for two reasons:

1) In the interest of interfaith relations (I personally only have one religion)

2) Because it would be really cruel for Geelong to have gotten into the Grand Final for the first time in more than 40 years only to miss out on a premiership.


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How is blogging like smoking a pipe?

You do it less when you are really busy.

And I have been busy of late. Early mornings followed by late evenings.

Yesterday began with the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom at 7:30am in the ACU chapel. Fr Lawrence Cross (Russian rite) was the chief celebrant, with Serge Kelleher (Ukrainian), Chris Gardiner (Franciscan) and Columba Stewart (Benedictine) as concelebrators.

A busy day of papers, to many to number, but most appreciated was from Deacon Anthony Gooley of the Brisbane Archdiocese on the Universal and Local Church.

Ended the day with Vespers at the Orthodox Mission in Spring Street. Went with an Orthodox participant in the conference (she is married to a Catholic), and a young Catholic student of St Maximas the Confessor (his thesis was marked by Dr Adam Cooper) from Tassie.

Ended? Well not quite. Then on to hear Dr Alister McGrath speak on the Dawkins’ Delusion at St Barnabas’ Anglican Church in Glen Waverly. About 500 present for a very good night. He is a clear speaker and I find him most agreeable. He went a little wobbly when one interlocutor asked about the evils that the Catholic Church perpetrates by not allowing condoms (he said he agreed although he understands the Church’s objection)–however later he was arguing for more understanding of natural law (saying that if we had had that 100 years ago, perhaps the Nazis wouldn’t have had the success they did). All he needs to do is connect the dots.

So it was very late when I arrived home. A busy day, but I did get in a short puff on the pipe between sessions!

And now it is very early and I have managed to get in a short blog too. 7:45 am again, and once again off to the Divine Liturgy and another day of papers! The day will end with Cathy and I attending Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev’s “St Matthew’s Passion” in St Patrick’s Cathedral tonight at 8:30pm. I believe there are still some tickets available.

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A "Word Only" evangelical Christianity?

Thanks to Paul Quist for pointing me to the blogsite of Fr Jay Scott Newman, on which there is this excellent reflection given at a recent Aquinas/Luther evening for Catholics and Lutherans (wouldn’t you just want to go to one of those?): Is “Word Alone” An Evangelical Possibility?

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Failed attempt to upload video of Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev!

I have just entirely failed in my attempts to upload a video of Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and All Austria (NOT Australia, Dixie and George W.!) speaking briefly about his St Matthew Passion which will be performed in St Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday night. I don’t know why it didn’t work. Some bug in blogger, I suspect…

Anyway, I was telling the good bishop today how young he looks (compared to myself who is the same age, but without so much hair and with glasses…).

He told me the following joke:

Do you know what the difference is between a priest and an archpriest?

The “arch”! [the latter is said, making a round “arch” movement with the hands over the stomach area! The fact that there were several good examples standing nearby made this joke even funnier!]

In case Dixie and George W. should think I am picking on them, Bishop Hilarion said today that he was once billed in a program as the “Bishop of Vienna and all Australia“. In fact, our local Russian Bishop is also named “Hilarion” but is well over sixty years old. Bishop Hilarion (Jnr) said that after his appearance at this function, he was approached by several older Russian ladies who wanted to ask him the secret of his youthful visage…


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The Joy of Ecumenism!

Yes, it’s almost as good as…well, the other thing that comes to mind with that title!

Today, at the Orientale Lumen Conference, among Catholics and Orthodox and Orientals, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic, Ukrainian, Antiochian, Coptic, Russian, Uniting Church, Serbian (…did I miss anyone out?) Christians, I heard a wonderful paper on the centrality of the Resurrection to our Christian faith (by Fr Prof. Anthony Kelly), another by Fr Columba Stewart OSB on eastern and western traditions of monastic progress in sanctification, and finally one by Prof. Mary Cunningham, an Orthodox convert and prof. at Nottingham University in England on the Theotokos.

I think the most wonderful individual I met today was an Irish Ukrainian Greek Catholic (yes, get your head around that one!) from Dublin, Archimandrite Serge Keleher.

But joy of great joys for me was a reunion with my one time brothers in the Lutheran ministry, Dr Jeffrey Silcock and Pastor John Henderson. The latter is the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia, and currently acting president of the Lutheran Church of Australia (he is vice president, but the President is out of the country at the moment). The former is a colleague from my old days on the Lutheran Commission on Worship, and now a lecturer at the Australian Lutheran College (aka The Sem).

Tonight, Cathy has gone with another member of her Lutheran Congregation in to hear Theresa Burke from Rachel’s Vineyard on how to assist women with post-abortion grief. Where is this happening? At my work-place, the Cardinal Knox Centre. See how ecumenism works?

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And speaking of Russian Orthodox: News of Father Tony Bartel…

The Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta has issued the following missive:

22 September 2007

To the People of the Parish of Rutherglen and Chiltern in the Diocese of Wangaratta

Dear People of Rutherglen and Chiltern Parish,

It is with sadness that I write to you today to let you know that your Rector, Fr Tony Bartel, has offered me his resignation.

Fr Tony, in offering me his resignation, has made it clear that he is very happy in the parish and that the resignation is from the Anglican Church.

Fr Tony has found that the changes made in the Diocese and the wider Anglican Communion make it impossible for him to remain an Anglican.

The ordination of women is a catalyst issue but is only one among a number of theological and ecclesiological issues for him.

Fr Tony and his family will celebrate their last Sunday in the parish on 2 December 2007.

It is Fr Tony’s intention to be received into the Russian Orthodox Church.

For my part, I will miss Fr Tony’s intellectual sharpness and his contribution to the wider Diocese. For that, and the joy of his family’s presence in the Diocese for these few years, I give thanks.

To you all in the parish, I emphasise that this decision is not to do with the parish but entirely to do with Fr Tony’s response to issues in the wider Anglican Church.

I leave it to him to explain this further to you at an appropriate time.

Fr Tony assures me that his love for, and commitment to, the people and Parish of Rutherglen and Chiltern remains undiminished by his decision.

May God bless you all in your Christian lives and ministry.

+ David

You will remember that I posted only a little over a week ago the news of the death of Fr Tony’s mother, so this is obviously a time of deep upheaval for the family, and I ask you to keep them all in their prayers.

Tony is living proof of Newman’s dictate: “To grow is to change and to grow perfect is to change often.” Tony went to school with me at Immanuel College in South Australia, then was at Luther Seminary and Adelaide University at the same time as I was until he graduated from his Bachelor of Theology and went to the States. There he was ordained a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia and met and married his wife, Beth. He returned to Australia some years later to be received into the Anglican Church and ordained first a deacon (I was there for that) and then a priest by Bishop David Silk for the Diocese of Ballarat. He did several years as a lecturer at an Anglo-Catholic Seminary in the highlands of Papua New Guinea before returning to ministry in Australia at Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills. For the past few years, he has been a priest of the diocese of Wangarratta in the lovely wine district of Rutherglen.

Now he takes one more step along the road to perfection. Tony acknowledges in a personal note that he is “unlikely to ever again have paid employment as a priest” so he will be seeking secular employment. However, I take it from that statement that he does intend to seek ordination as a Russian Orthodox priest.

There is of course one more “change” that lies ahead for Tony to take in his journey to ecclesiastical “perfection”, but we pray that he and his wife and family may enjoy a long period of settled and faithful membership in the Russian Orthodox Church before he finally decides to take that step which he has been putting off for almost a life time now…


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