An interstate spat has erupted between Anglicans, with the Sydney-based evangelical Anglican Church League (ACL) attacking the Diocese of Gippsland in Victoria.
At issue is the appointment of an openly gay man in a relationship to lead one of the diocese’s parishes.
The ACL called on Gippsland Bishop John McIntyre on February 12 to rescind the appointment of the Reverend David Head as Hayfield parish priest, calling the decision “dismaying”.
The ACL claimed the appointment conflicted with a resolution made at the Anglican Communion’s 1998 Lambeth Conference and the views of the General Synod of the Australian church.
“Appointments like this put unwanted strain and tension upon relationships between the various dioceses of the Anglican Church of Australia. It also contributes to the fragmentation of the Anglican Communion,” the ACL statement read.
However, McIntyre told the Star Observer that Head’s appointment was not in breach of the Lambeth ruling or the General Synod, neither of which condone the ordination of gay clergy, because he hadn’t ordained Head.
“I have not ordained anyone ‘involved in same gender unions’ to quote the [Lambeth] motion,” McIntyre told the Star Observer. “I have appointed a priest in good standing from the Diocese of Melbourne to a position in the Diocese of Gippsland.
“He was ordained over 30 years ago, has exercised good and faithful ministry in that diocese up until January this year, and he fulfils all the current criteria to be determined canonically fit to be licensed in an Anglican diocese anywhere in the world.
“The same can be said in relation to the suggestion I have ignored the advice of the resolution of General Synod 2004 which states ‘this general Synod does not condone the ordination of people in open committed same sex relationships’. I have not done that.”
McIntyre said his diocese never asked about the sexuality of clergy before ordaining or appointing them.
“Accordingly, I did not ask that question of David before appointing him. He was appointed by me on the request of the people of the parish in which he now serves because they believed his ministry experience and gifts made him the right priest for the job, and they believed him to be called by God to that ministry, as do I.”
McIntyre said he took Lambeth Resolution 1.10 very seriously as it also calls on Anglicans to condemn homophobia, minister sensitively to homosexual people, and assure that homosexual people know they are loved by God.
Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen is the vice-president of the ACL and leads the global faction within the Anglican Communion which has threatened to split the church over the issue of homosexuality.