The court found that the Bank had a contract with the Diocese, as represented by the Bishop in Council and that there was a real guarantee made to honour the loan. Further, the court found that the BiC has an obligation to promote the necessary ordinances to levy the funds required (i.e. general diocesan assets including, if necessary, church buildings and properties should be sold to make good the debt).
This obviously puts the diocese in a dire position. It is widely acknowledged that it will be unable to meet these debts and continue to function in any general sense as it currently does. So where to from here?
It’s less than 24 hours since the judgement was passed down but I’ve been able to canvas a range of responses from senior and informed figures in the Anglican Church of Australia.
Amongst many there is a genuine sorrow for the diocese which is now facing a major crisis, and also for Bishop Ian Palmer who is not in perfect health. But options are limited. This will now be a test of the national church’s understanding of its own mutuality. To what extent should other dioceses get involved to help out? What role should the Primate or the General Synod take? When the crisis first developed a financial advisory group went to meet with then Bishop Hurford. They were, it’s fair to say, sent packing. More recently at a General Synod Standing Committee meeting one member urged the Standing Committee to “either send a condolence card or stand shoulder to shoulder”. But which will it be?