Monthly Archives: April 2008

First Female Bishop for MELBOURNE!

You might have heard it somewhere else first, but I heard it just tonight from Bishop Peter Elliot after the Cross and Icon mass. The Melbourne Anglicans, in an uncharacteristic display of unity and solidarity with their brethren and sistern in Perth, have rushed to announce their own female candidate for the Anglican episcopate.

I do admit to having a bit of a chuckle about the new bishop-elect’s name, Darling. The biography on the Melbourne Anglican website doesn’t mention whether she is married or not, but if she is, I wonder if Bishop Darling would be known by her better half as “darling Bishop”?

At least one Catholic bishop had a bit of a chuckle at that one.


Reminds one of another classic character by the same name…

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Cross and Icon arrive in the Glorious See of Melbourne!


And the Schütz-Beatons were on hand to welcome it as it was received at St Patrick’s at a special mass this evening presided over by our great Archbishop +Denis (a man who really knows how to preside!).

But more surprising by far (and bringing even greater joy to the liturgically sensitive among the crowd) was the appearance of AN ALTAR CROSS! There it was, bold as brass (solid brass in fact), centre altar facing the presiding celebrant. So the liturgy was celebrated “versus Dominum” as well as “versus populum”.


If you are interested in how the liturgy is usually celebrated in St Patrick’s, take a look at Joshua’s excellent account of the episcopal Sunday mass here.

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See? I told you.

Well, it was inevitable that eventually someone would say something, and now our own Australian equivalent of Cardinal Kasper has said it:

Ordination for women is a doctrinal issue, not just a practical issue for us. And the ordination of women bishops enhances that obstacle because bishops are the leaders of the Church, and even within the Anglican Communion that leadership will be received ambiguously. (Bishop Michael Putney)

Once again, if I may say so, this is a clear example of the way in which the Church should seek both Unity and Doctrinal Orthodoxy.

And once again it is the Anglicans who are demonstrating the “devil-may-care” attitude to unity. The Perth bunch are dead set on the “gospel-imperative” that women be ordained to all levels of Holy Orders as a demonstration of the equal dignity of women and men before God. This is for them an issue of “doctrinal purity” and they are willing to forego the quest of unity to uphold it. So they are acting in exactly the same way as the Sydney Diocese. The only difference is the doctrinal issue at stake. Both are deliberately acting in a way that they KNOW will cause a further breakdown of relations with their brothers and sisters. BUT they don’t care.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, while just as clearly committed to its doctrinal convictions and fully acknowledging that both issues (the approval of homosexuality and the ordination of women) create major impediments to unity, NEVERTHELESS does not, for these reasons, sever relations with the dissenting community nor turn back from dialogue and seeking the path to doctrinal agreement and full communion at some point in the future (even if it recedes so far as to become only an eschatological hope!). We are doing all that we can to open the doors for full communion with the Catholic Church by explaining Catholic doctrine and showing its godliness and rationality. Moreover, while insisting on faithfulness to the Christian traditions, we do not put new stumbling blocks in the path of God’s little ones.

It is a difference in attitude. It is the Catholic “both/and” in comparison to the Protestant “either/or”.

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Nor do I.

No-one who knows Kay Goldsworthy would question her spiritual, intellectual, pastoral or administrative capacity for episcopal ministry.

So writes Rev. Dr Charles Sherlock, an Anglican theologian for whom I have the greatest respect, in Eureka Street. I do not know the revered personage in question, but I have no doubt that Dr Sherlock is correct in this statement.

But the fact is that being a bishop is not just about fulfilling a function.

It is about being a successor to the Apostles.

Who were all men.

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Sad Source for Glad News of Newman…

“Is that true, or did you just read it in the Times?”

I have said it before, and will say it again, if you read something about “The Vatican” in The Times, it is probably only rumours and myths and will be proved false before long.

Which is sad, because I really do want to believe that this time they could be right. See: Victorian Cleric Put on Path To Sainthood

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Yet more on Unity and "Pure" Doctrine

In case I haven’t made it clear enough in posts below, “purity” of doctrine vs unity of the Church is not a Catholic option. It is a “both/and”, as is so often the case in the Catholic Church, rather than an “either/or” as is so often the case with our Protestant brethren and sistern.

Why do protestants have a difficulty with this? Because they do not have the assurance that what their Church teaches IS and always WILL BE pure doctrine. Therefore, they must always maintain the freedom and the right to “opt out” of any relationship of communion which (in their judgement) might entail them being associated with “impure” doctrine.

Whereas Catholics have the assurance of the infallibility of the Church and hence maintaining unity is a matter of receiving with gladness the pure doctrine of the Church and maintaining pure doctrine is a matter of remaining within the unity of the Church’s universal communion.

Here again, and at length, from the same talk by the Holy Father in the US to leaders of the other Christain communties:

For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living.

Note the way the Holy Father speaks about unity in fellowship and in doctrine IN THE SAME BREATH!!!

Even within the ecumenical movement, Christians may be reluctant to assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division. Yet a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today. Only by “holding fast” to sound teaching (2 Thess 2:15; cf. Rev 2:12-29) will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching.

Thus, on the contrary, orthodox doctrine is aimed at HEALING the wounds of division, NOT exacerbating them.

…I am confident that – to borrow the words of Father Paul Wattson – we will achieve the “oneness of hope, oneness of faith, and oneness of love” that alone will convince the world that Jesus Christ is the one sent by the Father for the salvation of all.

Oneness of faith and Oneness of love, Truth and Love together, make for the true life of the Church.

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A choice between Monarchy, Republic or a different Republic? It’s not even that simple!

The Vision 2020 Summit meeting (which, if nothing else, proved how lucky we are not to live under a system of “direct democracy”) apparently came up with the idea that

First, there will be a vote to ask the electorate whether it wants a republic. If a majority say yes, there will then be a few years of discussion about what sort of republic we should have. Once a model has been chosen, there will be a second referendum to amend the constitution.

We are Sentire Cum Ecclesia are NOT HAPPY with such a suggestion, and for precisely the reasons suggested in this article in today’s edition of The Age: “It’s not just yes or no to a republic” by John Roskam.

Roskam notes that we should be more than just a little wary of the suggestion that came from the Summit, if for no other reason than that “98 of the 100 people in the governance stream at the summit supported a republic.” That is far in excess of the support that the republican movement has in Australia generally (about 55% to 60%), but it is a result, as Roskam notes, which is “not surprising, given the composition of the summit”.

As Roskam points out, there are not one, but two main sorts of republican in the Australian republican movement:

Any government that offered voters only a yes or no vote on the republic would not be offering Australians a genuine choice. It is disingenuous for anyone to claim that the debate about an Australian republic is about only two choices. The debate is actually about three choices: no change, “minimal” change (a republic with a president, probably chosen by the parliament), and “maximum” change (a republic with a directly elected president).

So lets ask the question: What would a plebiscite asking the question “Should Australia become a republic?” actually mean? Because in fact there are two issues driving the republican movement in Australia–two quite different issues which are confusing the debate. They are:

1) Should we have an Australian as our head of state? Behind this is a sense of national pride and independance and perhaps a touch of anti-English sentiment in some quarters.

2) Should we be able to elect our own head of state? Behind this is a rather more left-wing radical kind of democratic yearning that believes in the “sovereignty of the people” sort of goverment.

Those who are driven mainly by the first idea are likely to be content with a minimalist republican model. Those who are driven by the second are more likely to be driven by a maximalist model. But let it be quite clear: They are supporting the idea of a republic for two very different reasons, which may well make it impossible to find agreement across the board on an acceptable model for a future non-Monarchical Australian constitution.

Of course it works in reverse too. I am a constitutional monarchist, not because my loyalties are particularly tied to the English monarch (although I am her obedient subject and very fond of her and her family generally), but because I believe constitutional monarchy is a stable system of government which maintains a workable separation between the office of the head of state and the democratic political system. I would actually be very happy with an Australian Monarch as I have outlined in the Schütz Model (see side bar).

Roskam is right: The Australian people will not be able to sort out whether they SHOULD be a republic until they sort out WHAT SORT of republic they should be. And they won’t be able to sort that out until they sort out exaclty WHY they really want to be a republic in the first place.

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