[COMMENT: The material below is an accurate picture of the conditions facing orthdox Christians almost everywhere.  What is not evident from the piece is that the conservative, traditionalist folks are mostly to blame for their own predicament.  Conservative Christians long ago lost their capacity to defend their case in public, and do not seem about to recover it. 

Rebuilding the Biblical theology (meaning reestablishing the credibility of the Biblical worldview, is a primary task for us today.  That is what the Road to Emmaus is all about.  E. Fox] 

The National Chairman, 93 Glenlyon Road,  BRUNSWICK.  Vic.   3056














(18th JANUARY, 2006)


I first heard of the existence of your committee, third hand from Western Australia, in mid-August; and of its brief from Bishop Ross Davies a couple of months later. This raises the issue for us as to notification of the Committee’s existence and its task: “to offer conversations” to people such as ourselves.

May I ask the question as to whom, or where, such offer of conversations were made? I certainly heard nothing, nor read anything of it, in Melbourne. Perhaps this was publicized somewhere and I missed it. However, given the history of silent disregard for people of our constituency, one may be inclined to suspect, perhaps unfairly, that there has scarcely been a zealous pastoral pursuit of people such as ourselves by Episcopal shepherds for whom this committee was purportedly called into being. Please tell me if I am wrong.

It may be opportune for me to quote from my submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury:

“The two most recent General Synods, held in 2001 and 2004, saw attempts to legislate for women bishops accompanied by, to us, completely unsatisfactory proposals for alternative Episcopal care. In 2001 the legislation was withdrawn by its movers on the floor of General Synod. It should be noted that a very substantial number of submissions made to the General Synod working party relating to Episcopal care sought a non-geographical resolution acceptable to us. This however was disregarded and a much weaker form proposed.

“Preceding the 2004 Synod a second committee was set up to revisit the issues. Once more, we were given no representation on that body. Even worse, perhaps, we were not even consulted, nor given opportunity to make a contribution, regarding the subject of alternative oversight. This is disgraceful and profoundly unchristian. Would we treat indigenous people, or other interest groups, in such a manner: by ignoring them and then arbitrating for their non-existence.”

Having been at the coalface of this issue for a quarter of a century I raise the matter sharply because  General Synod rhetoric from Peter Carnley as to a “tolerable pluralism” in the 1980’s and Keith Rayner’s assurance of a “respected  place in our Church” with a recognition of the “Two Integrities” in 1992 have been patently false. We have been given nothing but the cold shoulder and a hard time with plenty of empty promises about “dialogue”, which I would have to describe from bitter experience as exercises in cynicism. I trust this present exercise may be better than that, though I am not exactly holding my breath. It was only because David Chislett was the one to at last do something to show we mean business that we are even here today, though sadly he is not, at your request. Please bear in mind when talking with your colleagues regarding Alternative Episcopal Oversight that what was the minimum for survival in 1992 such as England’s provision for Provincial Episcopal Visitors – which we have been denied – is simply unworkable in the face of women bishops. This represents a whole new ecclesiological ball-game, so far as we are concerned; and, with respect, is something not clearly grasped by Bishop Driver and other of your peers. Women bishops, “a gospel imperative”, in Archbishop Herft’s view and, I suspect others, are one way or another, not too far away from becoming a reality in this country. We need to be clear, in fairness to everyone, that FiFA, “seek a GUARANTEED ECCLESIAL STRUCTURE in which we can pass the Faith on to our children and grandchildren”, (caps. mine ) as our Mission Statement says.



FiF Australia would like to emphasise that the ordination of women is but a symptom of the concerns we have about what has been described as the revisionist agenda which has been embraced by a significant section of the ACA. Those who support this agenda in various degrees have abandoned the certitude of absolute truth, seeing God’s truth as unfolding including new revelations of that truth. There has been a post-modern attitude to the reading of Scripture and the interpretation of the doctrines of the Creeds. The Chalcedonian understanding of Christ’s nature is doubted, so the Trinity is understood in Modalist terms. The salvific death of Christ is questioned, therefore the Eucharist cannot be a remembrance of that sacrifice nor an anticipation of the heavenly banquet. The Eucharist becomes little more than a communal gathering of Christians who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of justice through the power of love promulgated by Christ at the Last Supper. At such a memorial meal the celebrant is seen as representing God, not an icon of the male Christ whose sacrifice is recalled. In this case the gender of the celebrant is irrelevant. The ordination of women is seen as a justice issue as is that of non-celibate same gender and trans-gendered relationships. The agenda is moving towards the abandonment of baptism as a pre-requisite to communion.

When the ACA authorised the ordination of women, it endorsed the revisionist or liberal agenda, for despite protestations to the contrary, history has shown that the ordination of women does not stand outside this agenda. It has accelerated the feminisation of the Church’s liturgy and worship, at times changing traditional doctrine, and within a short period in some dioceses there are more female clergy being ordained than men. The effect of gender imbalance weighted towards females is recorded in research conducted on the teaching, legal and medical professions and the Church is experiencing the same effects, namely a loss of professional status in the eyes of the public, and the disappearance of men from the ranks.

Whatever benefits are considered to have been brought to Anglicanism through the ordination of women, have come at a heavy price. Has it been worth the destruction of Eucharistic unity enjoyed by God’s people? The Eucharist is more important than the priesthood and within the ACA neither of these is common to us all. It is this fracture of communion that must be addressed by answering the questions posed to us.



The 5 questions presented to us by your committee are disappointing and scarcely scratch the surface of what are deeper and unexamined issues. They presuppose a liberal rewriting of history unacceptable to those of us shaped by the historical “Anglican Way” and ITS presuppositions. In my reading of them they tell me a good deal more about the mindset  of  diocesanism, so sadly characteristic of Australian Anglicanism than they do about the vast international crises and regroupings  currently engaging the Anglican “Communion” and how we may see ourselves in relation to these wider issues. Are we a “Communion” or a Federation of “Autonomous Provinces”?  What does it mean to be a Communion rather than a Church? Are there limits to Anglican diversity and if so what are they – and who sets them? Your last question speaks of ways of retaining the highest degree of  ‘communion’ amongst bishops. However, committing ourselves to ‘strategies and processes’ to this end, commendable  as that may be, does not deal with the fundamental problem of people believing irreconcilably different things about, say, human  sexuality or the nature of Holy Order. This will be expressed, at the very least, by a variable degree of ‘impaired communion’ – whatever that may mean .Is Peter Akinola, Primate of the most populous Anglican Province ‘in communion’ with the Archbishop of Canterbury? As is well known, he and 13 other International Primates refused to receive Holy Communion from Archbishop Williams at their meeting in Ireland last year. What does this say about the Anglican ‘Communion’ and those who believe the sine qua non of Anglicanism to be ‘in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury’?

I raise this broad and complex canvas because we need the bigger picture of a rapidly changing, many would say disintegrating, Anglicanism as we turn to the much smaller and inward-looking canvas you raise in your questions. In relation to these I have mentioned deeper and unexamined issues. For example, there is ‘sacramental certainty’ spoken of in 2 of your questions but unexplored as to its significance. It is certainly more than something of psychological comfort so far as people of our persuasion are concerned. Sacramental uncertainty needs to be contextualized – not least in relation to that most crucial of human faculties, particularly so for the Christian: conscience. In my view this has been the great casualty in our debates so far as orthodox Anglicans such as ourselves are concerned .The key issue of the overriding of an informed conscience by our liberal opponents has been scandalous, indeed immoral, and remains unaddressed. That is, unless one addresses it in the terms of Peter Carnley’s infamous 1983 Ad Clerum. I quote: ‘if we cannot live with a Synod decision with which we happen personally to disagree or if we refuse to be bound by it as a matter of conscience, then unhappily it may be necessary to shake the dust off our feet and quietly look for a more congenial environment’. This, in effect, unchurches people whose Anglicanism goes deeper than local synodical innovation. The Caroline Divines and our Tractarian  Fathers,for starters, would turn in their graves  at this eminently unanglican and profoundly unchristian bullying, not least from  an Archbishop. It is a sad fact of life that our people have had to deal with many Episcopal bullies in this country, determined to make us ‘fit in’ at the cost of conscience, if they can.

Forward in Faith people, however, not only make appeal to informed conscience but also to historic Anglican claims. Within the Anglican Church of Australia we turn to our Fundamental Declarations, the first of which states that we are ‘a part (but only a part)of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ’, and conduct ourselves accordingly. As Bishop David Chislett points out in his submission to the Brisbane Diocesan Commissioners and the Archbishop of Canterbury, our “crisis of conscience arose, not from the prospect of women clergy as such, but from the (Appellate) Tribunal’s jettisoning of the plain reading of the ‘Fundamental Declarations’ of the Constitution, adherence to which was part and parcel of the confidence with which catholic Christians felt able to be members of this church”. In other words the very basis of our claims to Catholicity has been undermined. By unilateral action we have moved, in effect, to become a sect; distancing ourselves from the consensus of Scripture and Tradition to which Anglicans have always appealed.

Father Christopher Colven the then Master of SSC put it this way back in 1992. ‘The problem which faces us ….is no longer about whether women can be ordained to the priesthood, but the change in self-understanding which this action has brought about’. It is this change in Anglican self-understanding which sets us at odds with those who have shifted the goal posts and identify us as intransigent, even belligerent; blaming us as responsible for the present breakdown in communion and communication that all too often characterize the unhappy , disintegrative, and highly politicized , world of  so much contemporary Anglicanism. Yet as has been frequently pointed out, impaired communion follows, not from what has been done by us, but what has been done to us. As I warned Peter Hollingworth when he first proposed the so called Clarification Canon regarding women priests in the 1980’s, ‘what you are proposing… will introduce 2 streams of sacramental life into our Church’. This warning went unheeded yet we continue to be the ones blamed for the sorry outcome that has followed.

Leading ecumenical theologian, Fr. Edward Yarnold SJ, puts the issue succinctly and accurately, ‘an impairment in communion is not declared in protest against the action, it is created by the action.’ Such insights lie at the heart of FiFA’s Statement on Communion and other foundation documents.



QUESTION ONE: In a period in which the ordination of women as priests is being described as being  in ‘a time of reception’ in the Anglican Communion, in what ways might those who have embraced such ordinations make sure there is space for sacramental certainty for traditionalists?

DAVID ROBARTS: By the guaranteed continuing provision of orthodox priestly ministry.

HARRY ENTWISTLE: In acknowledging a ‘period of reception’ concerning women’s ordination as priests, those who support this ‘development’ are entertaining the possibility that their action may be wrong, and thus reversible. This reception period is described as lasting until the whole Church acknowledges its rightness. The Pope and the Orthodox Churches say that it is not a matter of their not wanting to ordain women; it is that the Church has no authority to do so. Since 1992 some ACA bishops have added ‘experience’ to the principles of Scripture, Tradition and Reason as being definitive for Anglicans to determine what is right. This has given legitimacy to what is known as the ‘local option’, with the effect that a diocese can do virtually what it wants irrespective of its effects on others.

Once women are consecrated bishop within the ACA, the period of rece ption will be over. There will be no waiting for the whole Church to determine its rightness.

The Preface to the Ordinal of the BCP claims that in ordaining bishops, priests and deacons, the C of E intends to do nothing other than continue what has existed from the time of the Apostles. In persisting with what the largest sections of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church say the Church has no authority to do, the ACA has severed its connection with Catholic order and created its own form of Anglican ministry.

Traditional Catholics are simply holding firm to the certainty of Catholic Order treasured by the Anglican Reformers. Anglican clergy who are not in communion with those who ordain women remain within that Order.

[The priesthood of all believers is the calling of the whole people of God to live priestly lives modelled on Jesus Christ. It does not mean behaving like an ordained person, but it means all disciples should take responsibility to be the Church in the world. An ordained priest is who a person is, not what that person does. A priest is ordained to be an icon of Christ so enabling the priesthood of all believers to be exercised in the world. Modern clergy tend to see their role more as a therapist and manager rather than as a sacrament of Christ.]

There are numerically more dioceses in Australia with women priests than those without, but those without minister to the majority of Anglicans in the country. If those who ordain women are serious about the period of reception, then they must ensure that there is a continuity of Episcopal consecrations within Catholic Order and make provision for the training of traditionalist ordinands. It is virtually impossible for a traditionalist candidate to be accepted as an ordinand in a diocese with women priests. Without these provisions there can be no continuity of sacramental certainty for Traditionalist within the ACA. As it is there are many Anglicans in rural locations who have no access to sacramental certainty. Driving out, wiping out or spiritually starving out traditionalists is not the intention of a period of reception. How long term provision can be made will be dealt with in the answer to the final question, but as a pro tem, traditionalist clergy should be encouraged to hold occasional Eucharistic worship in different areas of a diocese and in some Provinces, even to cross diocesan borders.

QUESTION 2: How might traditionalists allow the possibility that the decision to ordain women to the ministry has been right, and how might those who desire to have  ordained women in ministry be cared for in a diocese where women are not ordained?

DAVID ROBARTS: Since Anglicans have only ever claimed to be part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ it will require the consensus of the whole Church to affirm the rightness of women’s ordination. One cannot say that there is a parallel crisis of conscience for those who desire women’s ministry in an orthodox diocese and are unable to have it and those in liberal dioceses where women’s ministry has been introduced contrary to conscience and Anglican historic self-understanding. In the former case no doubt there is desire to have a different form of ministry but they continue to have what they have always had. In the latter case that very ministry has been altered. It could be well said that provision should have been made in all dioceses for ministry based on recognition of the ‘Two Integrities’, at least for an agreed trial period, untidy and confusing as that may be. This would have been  a more coherent response than decisions based on Diocesanism.

HARRY ENTWISTLE: Traditionalists recognise the right of the ACA to make decisions about internal matters and to do so by a majority vote in its synods. However, when Synods assume the right to make decisions which impact upon the Catholic ordering of the whole Church and its ability to be an instrument of salvation in the world, then traditionalists cannot accept those decisions as being right. The decision to ordain women has been described by the British Roman Catholic bishops as a radical evolutionary step which breaks apostolic continuity, rather than being a legitimate and healthy progressive development clearly rooted in such continuity. On this view, those Provinces within the Anglican Church who have ordained women have become Protestants, rather than Reformed Catholics in the Anglican Tradition.

Any decisions made by the ACA synods which present significant and possibly insurmountable obstacles to Christian unity with the Catholic Churches of East and West, cannot be regarded as right by those who still claim membership of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. 

HARRY ENTWISTLE: The issue of sacramental certainty is of such fundamental importance that the effectiveness of the Church cannot be put at risk by sacramental provisionality. This is a salvation issue for those traditionalists who live in dioceses with women priests, and as the number of female clergy increases, the situation for traditionalists is only going to deteriorate further. The BCP Ordinal stresses the ‘greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that will ensue’ if the faithful do not receive the ministry of the sacraments.

For those who support the ordination of women who live in a diocese where none exist, the issue is not one of sacramental uncertainty, and such people are pastorally cared for by the male clergy of the diocese. It is not that these people are denied the ministry of women for women undertake wide ministries within the Church. There is confusion in the minds of many between ordained ministry and leadership roles, and for many the priesthood is seen in functional, therapeutic and managerial terms. Without female ordained ministry salvation of the faithful is not placed in jeopardy.

It is difficult for a traditionalist to suggest ways of providing for sacramental uncertainty, but those parishes which demand a female priest in a traditionalist diocese could be given canonical residence in a diocese which ordains women.

QUESTION 3: Amongst those who oppose the ordination of women and seek alternative Episcopal ministry, what is the theological rationale behind their desire for sacramental certainty from an all male ministry?

DAVID ROBARTS: Believing what the undivided Church and the historic Churches of East and West claiming Apostolic Succession have always believed concerning the nature of the Apostolic Ministry; a ministry given to the Apostles from the Lord.

HARRY ENTWISTLE: Opponents of the ordination of women do not seek alternative Episcopal ministry, we seek adequate Episcopal oversight. These two things are quite different.

Our desire for sacramental certainty is of fundamental importance to our salvation and it is far too vital to the life of the Church to be put at risk. Assurance of the authenticity of the sacraments is of the esse of the Church, and the guarding of such sacramental assurance is the key responsibility of the bishops. Once women are admitted to the Anglican episcopate not only would their orders and sacraments be uncertain, so would those of any priest, male or female, they ordain. Sacraments are not experimental, they are to be guaranteed signs of Christ’s presence and activity in the world.  That is why we need orthodox bishops who can give us that assurance.

The theological rationale for maintaining an all-male Episcopal and priestly ministry is spelt out in the publication, “Consecrated Women?” In that book arguments are made that the episcopate (and priesthood) must remain male because it is iconic and impacts upon the Church’s traditional understanding of the doctrine of God, of the creation and nature of humankind, of the Incarnation and of the person of Christ. It has serious implications for our understanding of the Church, of the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist, of communion, authority, the Episcopal imagery of Bridegroom and Bride, the understanding of reception, and of the claim that the Anglican Church is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

QUESTION 4: What is the theological rationale for alternative Episcopal ministry in our Church where the Diocesan Bishop has full canonical authority in his diocese?

DAVID ROBARTS: Section 4 of FiFA’s Statement on Communion presents well the difficulties created for priests of our persuasion in relation to bishops who ordain women. Again, it reminds us of the primacy of conscience. Consciences of priests informed by what the Church Catholic has always believed about the Apostolic Ministry must be respected by bishops who abandon that belief themselves and embrace innovations such as the Ordination of Women. Not to do so is a fundamental failure in the Episcopal care and responsibility for which the bishop was consecrated in the first place. In short the provision of  Alternative Episcopal Oversight  should be seen as an obligation incumbent upon innovating bishops to meet the needs of orthodox consciences. Recognition of genuine pastoral need finds a way to deal appropriately with matters of due canonical authority. Certainly this has been the experience in a variety of contexts with the Provincial Episcopal Visitors in England.

Canonical authority needn’t be a bogeyman – nor something to hide behind as an excuse for doing nothing by bishops unwilling to meet the pastoral needs of people such as ourselves because they are anxious or afraid about loss of  ‘territory’. Whose ‘territory’ is it, anyway? In my experience Christ richly rewards all of us when we are generous to one another.

HARRY ENTWISTLE: The issue behind this question is, “What is a bishop?” Anglicanism has never satisfactorily clarified its understanding of the episcopate and to admit women to that order without doing so will only add to the confusion. In the ACA there is confusion between ordained ministry and leadership roles with more bishops seeing themselves as Diocesan CEO’s rather than Fathers in God, and priests seeing themselves as functionaries, managing local parish units.

Jesus chose male apostles and the Church replaced Judas by a male apostle even though women filled the criteria of apostleship. The pastoral epistles require a bishop to be the husband of one wife. From the second century the bishop has been the focus of unity and the guardian of the faith ensuring what was received was handed on.

The bishop is a teacher, standing in the Apostolic Succession by teaching the Faith once delivered to the Saints. This succession was not broken by the Anglican Reformers. The bishop is called to be a sign and instrument of the apostolicity and catholicity of the Church. The bishop gathers the faithful together in Eucharistic unity, and without such unity, the bishop cannot be the focus of unity within a diocese.

If there is doubt about whether a bishop stands in the Apostolic succession either through doubt as to whether that bishop really is a bishop, or because that bishop does not teach  the Apostolic Faith, then there can be no sacramental certainty.

For Traditionalists it is not a question of whether a bishop has canonical authority. It is a question of whether we can be in communion with that bishop.

The degree of impaired communion which currently exists between ACA bishops will be further fractured if women are admitted to the episcopate. It may well be that diocesan bishops openly declare themselves to be out of communion with women bishops and those in communion with them. Without a high level of unity existing between bishops they will simply become local prelates managing their own diocese incapable of giving collegiate sacramental, theological and pastoral leadership to members of the ACA.

It is vital that Traditionalists be in communion with bishops from whom we can be assured of receiving divinely ordained sacraments and be taught a divinely revealed faith.

QUESTION  5: What strategies and processes would we commit ourselves to so that the highest degree of ‘communion’ is retained amongst bishops and those who feel aggrieved from both sides of the spectrum?

DAVID ROBARTS: I have partly dealt with this question earlier. Irreconcilable theological difference like irretrievable breakdown in marriage needs to be recognized rather than trying to fix things with slippery words. This is not to deny the place of genuine dialogue, but I mean genuine. This requires of us a listening heart and mind rather than siphoning off the bits we want to hear and use, especially in the case of those with whom we disagree. Clergy are not generally good listeners and bishops usually the worst of all! Are we prepared to pay the price of searching to discern the truth in love? It will always be painful. Costly love is the necessary groundwork for whatever degree of communion is possible. The more I look at this question the more phoney it seems to be. I don’t think it’s serious.

HARRY ENTWISTLE: The emergence of the issue of sexuality and its challenge to the understanding of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church has sparked a re-alignment within the Anglican Communion and in doing so has re-ignited the unresolved issues surrounding the ordination of women and the place of those Continuing Churches and AMiA formed as a result of that development. In the ECSA in particular, we have seen the emergence of theological jurisdictions existing alongside geographical diocesan jurisdictions – currently some 200 Anglican congregations belong to non-ECUSA jurisdictions from the Global South. This number is growing and will continue to do so. In the UK, Uganda has consecrated Sandy Millar as a missionary bishop in London. Re-alignment is in response to Anglicans asking the question about who they can be in communion with.

The emergence of a theological jurisdiction can be seen in Australia as the Sydney Diocese affiliates with theologically compatible independent and Uniting Church congregations. It is also possible that a Conference of theologically orthodox provinces and dioceses in Australasia could form, similar to CAPA in Africa and CAPAC in the Americas. Singapore is a founding member of the AMiA. Were this to happen the effect on the ACA would be significant.

On the Catholic side, if no adequate Episcopal oversight is offered, Fif clergy and laity increasingly uncomfortable with the liberal agenda, will re-align themselves with those Anglicans driven out of the ACA from the mid 1980’s who joined the TAC. FiF International and the TAC already form an ecclesial entity and are in communion with each other. Were such ‘defections’ to occur, the TAC would benefit from the wide experience in ministry, both clerical and lay, of those joining them.

The result of this will be the existence of three Anglican jurisdictions each claiming to follow the Anglican Way, but not in co-operation with each other. This will seriously damage the mission of the Church.

In the English Synod, +Rowan Williams has recently argued for a structural solution in which there would be ‘interactive pluralism in which difference is acknowledged and given space, but not an excuse for ‘ghettoisation’ or exclusion from a serious degree of shared work, shared resources and mutual responsibility. For FiF this structural solution would need to recognise the relationship between FiF International and the TAC because FiF believes that it was not the intention of the General Synod during the period of reception, to drive out those who for sound theological reasons cannot accept the ordination of women.

A possible solution could be the creation of a jurisdictional partnership rather than looking for jurisdictional unity.

Within this partnership there would be a geographical jurisdiction with a bishop holding canonical authority, and a theological jurisdiction which crosses the boundaries of geographical dioceses in order to provide sacramental certainty for Traditional Catholics. This theological constituency could be linked to a geographical diocese led by an orthodox bishop. Assistant bishops who subscribe to the FiF Communion Statement could be licensed to that bishop and act under his canonical authority.

Those parishes wishing to have a female parish priest could be canonically transferred to the nearest diocese which ordains women and cared for by that geographical diocese.

The geographical and theological jurisdictions would be in broken communion with each other but that does not mean that as fellow Anglicans all roads of co-operation would be closed. Administrative matters could be agreed between the partners, and in Metropolitan dioceses one or two church buildings could be designated as being leased to the theological jurisdiction, and in country dioceses churches be made available to the theological jurisdiction as required for Eucharistic and other sacramental ministry. Each jurisdiction would be free to appoint and train their clergy and pursue their own ecumenical relationships.

 This model would require a great deal of humility from both sides and a commitment to work together in its implementation. Re-alignment is already happening, and the Diocese of Sydney has already refused to delay its “Affiliated Churches Ordinance”. Were the ACA to do nothing for Traditional Catholics in the immediate future, they also may lose patience.                                                                                                               

 The Rev’d David Robarts O.A.M. National Chairman

 93 Glenlyon Road  BRUNSWICK    VIC.   3056

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