31 May 2023

Church ‘can find a way to stay together’: Primate

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Geoffrey Smith. Image: Supplied.

Kirralee Nicolle

18 August 2022

The newly announced breakaway GAFCON diocese is likely to cause unfortunate confusion, Australian Primate Archbishop Geoffrey Smith has said.

GAFCON Australia leaders announced at their Australasia conference that they had launched the Diocese of the Southern Cross, as an option for people and congregations who might chose to leave the Anglican Church of Australia if diocese chose to bless same-sex unions.

They also announced a bishop for the diocese: former Archbishop of Sydney Bishop Glenn Davies. GAFCON leaders said that the first church in the diocese had already met in Queensland, the Southern Cross Anglican Beenleigh and Logan.

Read more: GAFCON announces first bishop for new diocese, says strategy is primarily to encourage unity

Bishop Smith noted the launch of the Diocese of the Southern Cross, saying that it had no connection with the Anglican Church of Australia.

“It is unfortunate that confusion may well result from the establishment of this organisation among existing members of the Anglican Church of Australia and among people wishing to connect with the Anglican Church of Australia,” he said.

Bishop Smith said he was perplexed at the citing of a failure by General Synod to define marriage as between a man and a woman as the reason for establishing a new diocese by the leaders of GAFCON and the Diocese of the Southern Cross.

Read more: ‘Orthodox … Biblical Anglicanism’, or an ‘outright lie’? GAFCON divides

He said the world was tragically divided, and that the church’s role in this was to show how to live with differences of opinion.

“Not merely showing tolerance but receiving the other as a gift from God,” Bishop Smith said.

Bishop Smith said representatives at the General Synod meeting in May 2022 had “clearly affirmed the view that marriage is between a man and a woman, and declined to affirm same-sex marriage”.

Read more: Anglican Church in ‘perilous’ position after failing to define marriage as one man, one woman: Raffel

“My conviction is that the Anglican Church of Australia can find a way to stay together, graciously reflecting God’s great love, with our differences held sincerely. This week’s announcement makes achieving that end more difficult but not impossible,” he said.

Bishop Smith said that he will continue to pray, work and encourage others to see God’s call on the church realised.

On the final day of General Synod on 13 May, a motion was passed relating to exemption clauses for religious bodies. It included the clause stating that General Synod:

Continues to affirm that marriage according to the rites and ceremonies of the Anglican Church of Australia is the voluntary union of one man and one woman arising from mutual promises of lifelong faithfulness. The doctrines, tenets, beliefs and teachings of our Church are expressed in the authorised liturgies of our church and there is currently no liturgy for the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage.

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