The Anglican Church’s ongoing debate over blessing gay and lesbian lives amounted to spiritual war, Anglican Dean of Sydney Phillip Jensen said this week.
Jensen’s comment came in the wake of an international report that called for unity in the Anglican Church, following the ordination last year of openly gay New Hampshire bishop V. Gene Robinson.
The Windsor report recommended the American Episcopal Church apologise for ordaining Bishop Robinson, but also condemned the demonising of homosexuality, and criticised conservative parishes who threatened to split over the issue.
Anglicans on both sides of the debate were united only in their dissatisfaction with the report.
Conservative diocese condemned the findings, and Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria asked, Where is the language of rebuke for those who are promoting sexual sins as holy? Associated Press reported.
Gay activist Peter Tatchell said the report was designed to appease bigoted Anglicans who oppose gay human rights, Reuters reported.
In Australia, supporters of Bishop Robinson told the Star the findings at least avoided the expulsion of the American church.
Given some of the rumours that were floating around beforehand, about how chunks of the Anglican communion were going to be forcibly cut off, I’m glad to know that this is not what’s happened, Reverend Dr Elizabeth Smith said.
Reverend Dr Andrew McGowan, director of the theological school at Melbourne’s Trinity College, told the Star it could have been a lot worse. It’s nowhere near as bad as the sort of things Phillip Jensen would like it to say, that’s for sure, he said.
Phillip Jensen expressed his dissatisfaction with the debate at the Sydney Diocesan Synod this week.
Brother of Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen, Phillip Jensen declared an Anglican spiritual war, stating we cannot be engaged in their battles without calling sin, sin, heresy, heresy and corruption for what it is, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
If the debate is a war, then key battles have already been won by conservative Anglicans.
The Australian General Synod, which concluded last week, saw delegates voting against the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy who were in same-sex relationships. The Synod also voted against the consecration of women bishops.
Melbourne Anglican laywoman Muriel Porter spoke at the Synod supporting same-sex unions and told the Star the church had already effectively split. Anglican unity, Porter said, had become a false idol.
To find a way forward in such a way that says we’ve got to bury our differences, not treat them seriously and not listen to each other -¦ in the name of a structural unity, then that’s when it becomes false, Porter said.
Porter likened the warring sides in the debate as a couple with irreconcilable differences staying together for the children. That can be very damaging for the children, Porter said.
Yet the uneasy marriage continues. Representatives from Bishop Robinson’s diocese released a statement this week that fell short of an apology for their actions.
We acknowledge and regret the pain and confusion caused by the election and consecration of our bishop -¦ the statement read.
[But] we affirm the ministry of our bishop and applaud his efforts at reaching out in ways that are sensitive and caring.