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Gafcon diocese is ‘a new denomination’ says Australian Primate

18 August 2022

Archbishop of Adelaide responds firmly to the creation of breakaway diocese

Diocese of Adelaide

The Australian Primate, the Most Revd Geoffrey Smith

The Australian Primate, the Most Revd Geoffrey Smith

THE Australian Primate and Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Revd Geoffrey Smith, has responded firmly to the creation of an Australian Gafcon diocese (News, 16 August), describing it as “effectively a new denomination”.

The “company named the Diocese of the Southern Cross”, which was created on Monday, had “no formal or informal relationship or connection with the Anglican Church of Australia,” he said later this week. “As such, it will operate independently from the Anglican Church as, effectively, a new denomination.”

He continued: “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 has also noted concern that “the leaders of this breakaway movement cite the reason for this new denomination as the failure of General Synod to explicitly express an opinion against the blessing of same-sex marriages” (News, 20 May). The General Synod meeting in May had “clearly affirmed” that marriage is between a man and a woman, he said, and did not affirm same-sex marriage.

His criticism was echoed by the Bishop of Ballarat in regional Victoria, the Rt Revd Garry Weatherill, who said that he was sorry that the leaders of the new movement “believe that the majority of Australian Anglicans are either shrouded in darkness or deliberately unorthodox in their faith. . .

“The Gafcon people have promoted a series of claims about the Anglican Church of Australia that are just not true,” Bishop Weatherill said. Their claim that a majority of Anglican bishops at the recent General Synod did not support the traditional teaching about marriage was false.

“Those bishops who did not conform to Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel’s call to ‘choke’ any further discussion about this matter voted against the Archbishop’s statement because it was a ‘choke’ mechanism,” he explained. It was “hugely disrespectful to those Anglican and other same-sex-attracted folk, who are looking for compassion and support from their church leaders. There has been no doctrinal change.”

When plans for the new diocese were announced last year, Archbishop Smith said that it had felt “like the life of our Church is being undermined from within” (News, 30 July 2021).

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