News and views from Australia and around the world
Newcastle diocese acts against three bishops; Victoria holds back on confessional seal; and good reading for NAIDOC Week.
July 11 2018
The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle has referred three of its former bishops – Alfred Holland, Roger Herft and former assistant bishop Richard Appleby – to Church tribunals after adverse findings against them last December by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for their roles in failing to stop “a group of perpetrators” sexually abusing children for at least 30 years. Award-winning journalist Joanne McCarthy reports.
The Victorian Government calls for more time to consider a Royal Commission recommendation to override the Seal of Confession and require clergy to report any suspicions or explicit confessions of child abuse to police, with Attorney-General Martin Pakula saying a national approach on the question would be preferable.
Researchers at Melbourne Museum have found 10 previously forgotten Indigenous names for Melbourne suburbs and sites from the late 19th century. But one called “Cathedral”, according to the notes of anthropologist and Gippsland magistrate Alfred William Howitt, is intriguing. Does the Woiwurrung name for “Cathedral”, “Geeburr”, refer to the site of St Paul’s or St Pat’s – or is it a generic reference to a place recognised as “sacred” by Aboriginal people and not a specific place name at all?
Listen to three Indigenous women who are leaders in their churches – including Aunty the Revd Patricia Courtenay, an Anglican priest from the Birri people near Townsville and the Gurang Gurang people near Bundaberg – talk to James Carleton of ABC Radio National’s God Forbid program about the Indigenous women who have inspired them and the surprising Christian origins of NAIDOC Week.
Talks are being held in the Diocese of Christchurch to try to reach an amicable separation between the diocese and members of four conservative evangelical churches who have voted by large majorities to disaffiliate following the decision in May by the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia to permit churches to bless same-sex marriages. Archbishop Philip Richardson, one of the Church’s three Primates, says the aim is to allow the congregations to disaffiliate “in a respectful manner while maintaining good communication and leaving doors open”.
Olivia Rudgard of Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reports that money given to the Church of England through direct debits and standing orders has fallen for the first time since records began in 1964. Mr John Spence, chair of the Archbishops' Council Finance Committee, told General Synod that young people were not replacing older churchgoers in donating money to the Church. “An 81-year-old is eight times more likely to go to church than an 18-year-old,” he said.
Investors in charge of the Church of England’s $A14.2 billion in funds have been instructed by General Synod to disinvest from fossil-fuel companies by 2023 unless the companies can prove that they are on the path to tackling climate change. But a proposal to bring forward the deadline to 2020, despite backing from non-government organisations, was lost after several speakers argued that it would mean losing the potential to exert shareholder power.
The US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has voted unanimously this week to re-admit the Episcopal Church of Cuba as a diocese of the US Church. The vote reversed a 1966 decision, seven years after the Cuban Revolution drove a wedge between Washington and Havana, by the US bishops of the time, who unilaterally dissolved ties between US and Cuban Episcopalians.
A society in which gold and silver, rather than wisdom, are prized, inequality remains between women and men – including in the Church – and there is widespread recreational drug use are among the factors driving family violence, according to former Canberra-Goulburn Bishop George Browning in this piece from his blog In Service of the Common Good.
Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, whose responsibilities include North Africa and the Horn of Africa, considers the causes of the global migration crisis in this article for the Anglican Communion News Service – and suggests the promotion of sustainable development in source countries by the West forms part of the solution.