RC bishop withdraws offer to host Anglican ordinations

03 December 2009

by Muriel Porter, Australia Correspondent

Offer withdrawn: St Kilian's, Bendigo

Offer withdrawn: St Kilian's, Bendigo

THE Vatican ordered the Roman Catholic bishop of a regional diocese in Victoria to with­draw his offer to host an Anglican ordina­tion in a church in his diocese because four women were among the seven ordinands.

The Bishop of Sandhurst, the Rt Revd Joe Grech, had, some weeks ago, offered the use of St Kilian’s to his Anglican counterpart, the Bishop of Bendigo, the Rt Revd Andrew Cur­now, for an ordination of deacons to be held at the end of November. The service took place in St Andrew’s Uniting Church in­stead.

Bendigo Anglican Cathedral was closed earlier this year because of safety consider­ations: the diocese does not have the estimated $5 million required to effect the necessary repairs. Sunday services are being held in a hall.

Bishop Grech told the press that he had checked widely before offering the use of St Kilian’s, the oldest RC church in Bendigo, and had had the approval of the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto. But, after a complaint was lodged with the Vatican, he withdrew his invitation.

The Vicar General of Sandhurst, Mgr John White, said that “there was no way we were endorsing their [the Anglicans’] theological stance for the ordination of women — it was a generous offer to help when they could not use their own facility.”

The Anglican Dean of Bendigo, the Very Revd Dr Peta Sherlock, said that Roman Catholics in Bendigo were shocked by the reversal. “It was a fantastic good-news story, and now it’s gone,” she said.

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