Senior Anglican figure lashes out at world leader of the Church

TONY EASTLEY: A senior figure from Australia’s Anglican Church is embroiled in controversy, after lashing out at the liberal values of the world leader of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, whose brother is Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen, reportedly accused Archbishop Williams of “theological and intellectual prostitution”.

The comments were apparently made in reference to the Archbishop’s privately held liberal views about homosexual relationships.

Also in his speech to conservative Christians in the UK, Philip Jensen described Prince Charles as a public adulterer.

Nick McKenzie reports.

NICK MCKENZIE: The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Philip Jensen, reportedly made the comments during a speech to conservative Christians in England.

According to excerpts of the speech published in the Guardian newspaper, he attacked the most senior Anglican figure, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, over his liberal views about homosexual relationship – views which the Archbishop holds privately but does not express on behalf of the church.

Dean Jensen reportedly described the views as a “total prostitution of the Christian ministry” and, in urging Archbishop Williams to resign, accused him of “theological and intellectual prostitution”, and of taking his salary under false pretences.

And he didn’t stop there.

In an attack on the Church of England, he labelled the Prince of Wales a public adulterer, and King’s College Chapel in Cambridge as a “temple to paganism” for selling CDs of its famous choir in the ante-chapel.

A spokeswoman for Dean Phillip Jensens’s brother, Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, says she believes the comments have been accurately reported, although she says she has not seen the full text of the speech.

Senior Anglican figures in Australia have been quick to distance the church here from the comments.

Robert Forsyth is the bishop of South Sydney.

ROBERT FORSYTH: They are not the views of the diocese of Sydney or the Anglican Church of Australia, so much as the personal views of Dean Philip Jensen.

They may reflect the views of some people … perhaps put in very colourful Australian way, but I know there would be many people who would be uneasy with certain aspects of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s position.

NICK MCKENZIE: Does it reflect a split in the Anglican Church across then world and in Australia between those who want to adhere to a more conservative religion and those who want to open up the church to more liberal values?

ROBERT FORSYTH: There are cracks occurring across the Anglican Communion. They tend to be between leaders in Asia and Africa complaining about the high handed and unilateral actions of the church, the Anglican Church, in the United States. We in Australia are more observers, at the moment, of this important and serious bit that is unravelling even as we speak.

NICK MCKENZIE: Dean Jensen’s speech comes as an international Anglican church review panel prepares to hand down findings on possible changes to the church’s structure.

The panel was set up after a decision by the US Episcopal church to ordain an openly gay bishop.

NICK MCKENZIE: Do you hope it will discipline the US church for making its unilateral decision?

ROBERT FORSYTH: To be frank with you, I do. Unity is very important in our church, but even more importantly than that, is being faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, and being his church, and I think on this issue, I think the vast majority of Anglicans rights throughout the world would like to see an outcome like that.

TONY EASTLEY: Robert Forsyth – the Bishop of South Sydney.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, AM (radio program), Australia
Oct. 14, 2004
Nick McKenzie (Reporter)

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 14, 2004.
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