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Upholding the Faith and Order of the Church
Saturday September 23rd 2017

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DHP_MAI_200414barryJPGSt. Asaph’s Cathedral Goes Gay: St. Asaph’s Cathedral in Wales premiered the short LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual) film, All One in Christ, on December 6, as part of the Iris Prize gay film festival, also taking place at the cathedral.

The Iris Prize is the world’s most prestigious LGBTQIA short film award and the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, was enthusiastic about it:

“This film will not be easy watching for church members as it reminds us how people among us have been ostracised and mistreated because of their sexuality. By sharing the personal stories of those who have suffered and been hurt I hope this powerful film will bring home to all the scale of the damage done and ultimately help change attitudes within the church.”

Mike Jones from Changing Attitude, Trawsnewid Agwedd Cymru, said, “Those who took part in the film describe the pain experienced by LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual) people… We are all one in Christ.”

Archbishop Barry Morgan was against gay marriage until he decided in 2016 that it was “biblical.” Morgan is set to retire in 2017.

UK Refuses Visas to Persecuted Christians: The UK has refused short term visas to three persecuted bishops from Iraq and Syria. The Archbishop of Mosul, the Archbishop of Homs and the Archbishop of St Matthew’s Valley (Nineveh Valley) were all refused short term entry visas, despite two of the bishops being invited to the consecration of a new Syrian Orthodox cathedral in London.

According to the Barnabas Fund, visas were refused on the grounds that the Archbishops did not have sufficient funds to support themselves and might not return to their countries of origin. The leader of the UK’s Syriac Orthodox Christians, Archbishop Athanasius Thoma Dawod, condemned the decision: “We cannot understand why Britain is treating Christians in this way?”

The treatment of these persecuted Christians contrasts strongly with that given to extremist Islamic leaders. This summer two Pakistani Imams were given visas to tour UK mosques. They were both prominent supporters of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and advocates of the killing of Christians accused of under them.

Parishioners Padlock Bishop: Hostilities between parishioners and the Bishop of Sapele, the Rt. Rev. Erifeta, became so bad that angry congregants padlocked the bishop in his Cathedral Church of St. Luke. According to reports, the besieged bishop had to break out of the cathedral through its gate.

The dispute arose in 2015, over alleged diocesan corruption and “high handedness,” and has yet to be resolved despite attempts at reconciliation.

Forward in Christ has to ask if this presents the wider Communion with a model for ecclesial discipline?

Australian Church Sex Scandal: The Anglican Church in Australia has been rocked by a series of child sex scandals, involving clergy in Perth, Newcastle and Tasmania.

The alleged abuse was particularly far-ranging in Tasmania, involving a paedophile ring active within the Church of England Boy’s Society (CEBS). According to evidence presented to a Royal Commission earlier this year, CEBS official Bob Brandenburg colluded with Lou Daniels, a Burnie Archdeacon, to sexually molest young boys. Brandenburg committed suicide in 1999 after being charged with nearly 400 child abuse offences. Daniels was not alone, at least two other Tasmanian priests were heavily involved in the child sex ring, Garth Hawkins and John Elliott. The latter was convicted of 30 sex crimes against minors. The former Bishop of Tasmania, Philip Newall, has been accused of covering up the abuse.

In Perth, a former Anglican priest, Raymond Cheek, was found guilty of child abuse over a 30 year period, between 1955 and 1985, during which time he molested 5 boys. The former Dean of Newcastle, Graeme Lawrence, was also implicated in the scandal. However, Lawrence denied he led a paedophile sex ring, but was only guilty of “failing to act” when he suspected a priest was sexually abusing boys. Lawrence has been accused of child abuse dating from the time when he was Rector of Griffith. He was defrocked in 2012.

No Creed in Brisbane: The Primate of Australia, Phillip Aspinall, has made Archdeacon Jeremy Greaves an Assistant Bishop. Greaves is controversial for enthusiastically supporting gay marriage and, most recently, for saying that he was willing to “abandon the creed.”

As reported by Australian priest, David Ould, Greaves was questioned about his beliefs by ABC Radio National interviewer, Rachel Kohn:

Rachael Kohn: Do you specifically then have difficulties with the Apostles’ Creed that you might like to rewrite it or ditch it?
Jeremy Greaves: I’d be happy to abandon the Creed.

Greaves went on to say that abandoning traditional Christian terms and doctrine was problematic because it might offend congregations and have an impact on his salary.

“I feel very conflicted about some of those things,” stated Greaves, “Because – and she talked about that chasm between what so many of us believe and what we feel we have permission to say in our churches. And for so many of us in ministry, we’re locked into a model where the people who sit in the pews pay our salaries, pay our way. I have a wife and three small children to support and so the challenge of being too prophetic and changing too many things too quickly is that there won’t be enough people left in the short term to help me survive financially, and that’s a brutal and very difficult challenge.”

Perhaps now that Greaves is a bishop he won’t have to worry about that kind of financial shortfall, or the Creed.

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