There does appear to be an inconsistency here. Bishop Stuart rightly notes that only an ordinance that has received assent can be referred to the tribunal. But in his pastoral letter he told us that “I have communicated with the Primate and he has indicated that he will refer the Ordinance to the Appellate Tribunal.” Yet how can the Primate refer the Ordinance and have an opinion on it issued if Bishop Stuart has not yet given assent? Make up your mind, please.
So where to from here? Newcastle now has an ordinance in limbo that effectively states that marriage between a homosexual couple is perfectly ok. It is, by any assessment, an attempt to introduce a de facto change in the doctrine of marriage without having the courage to just say “we’re changing the doctrine of marriage” or having provided anything like the necessary theological justification. Given the deep debate over this topic in the recent years (not to mention the repeated motions in General Synod affirming what the church’s doctrine of marriage – not least that it is between a man and a woman), those that claim this is not a change in the doctrine of marriage can only be understood to be disingenuous. Or utterly ignorant of the current debate. The latter is simply impossible. But the bishop is is signalling that he won’t give it assent and so the Appellate Tribunal cannot consider it, even though that’s just what Bishop Stuart wants them to do in order to provide him cover to give assent.
And so Newcastle, led by its bishop, has pushed us further to the cliff edge.
What will the Appellate Tribunal say? Will they even ever meet? Will the Primate publicly back the position of General Synod and call on revisionist bishops to cease their deeply damaging actions? What will happen when the bishops meet in Melbourne next month?
We welcome the Synod of the Diocese of Newcastle to the Cathedral over these next two days. Bishop Peter delivers his Charge to the Synod, speaking of contemplative action and silence, stillness, and solitude. pic.twitter.com/tXGEa4tlO8
— Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle NSW (@newycathedral) October 25, 2019