Australian Anglicans officially split as new GAFCON aligned church is launched.

The recently retired Archbishop of the ultra-conservative Archdiocese of Sydney, Glenn Davies, has emerged as the leader of a breakaway extra-provincial diocese, the Diocese of the Southern Cross. This new church will cover the whole of Australia.

This move has been taken with the support of GAFCON, the ad-hoc grouping of bishops and dioceses most opposed to the inclusion of LGBT+ persons in the life of the church. The Archdiocese of Sydney has been a strong supporter of the GAFCON, which has previously supported breakaway groups in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and New Zealand.

In its organizing documents registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, the new diocese states that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles will be the “authorized standard of worship and doctrine.” The new diocese also states that GAFCON’s Jerusalem Declaration will be the third pillar of their identity and will be “the basis of fellowship in the Diocese.”

The new diocese is opposed to marriage equality and presumably it will also be opposed to female ordination as the Jerusalem Declaration, in two of its statements it upholds traditional views of each, which say;

  • We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
  •  We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.

 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, when asked about the ordination of women, a spokesman said; “Those ministers who join will already have been in holy orders, so there will be no need for ordinations until after the first synod of the diocese.”

The new Diocese is also supported by the serving bishop of Tasmania, Richard Condie, who is also the chair of GAFCON Australia. He was present at the GAFCON Australasia conference where the  launch the new diocese was announced, saying; “We are at an important moment in the history of the Anglican Church in Australia, you know as well as I do that there is an emergency.”

Further he noted that “GAFCON Australia had originally been set up as a “break glass in case of emergency” organisation. The emergency, he stressed, had now come: This walking away from the scriptures and the ridiculing of those who uphold them as we have seen in some presidential addresses by bishops in Australian Synods this year, IS the crisis, it IS the emergency to which we must respond.”

The decision to go ahead with the formation of the breakaway diocese was taken after a motion offered by the Sydney Archdiocese to affirm that marriage was only between a man and a woman was blocked by the Australian Bishops 12 to 10.

 


image: Archbishop Glenn Davies

 

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