Possibly in order to distract from the Australian rugby team being thrashed, yet again, by the All Blacks, a discussion is arising about the consistencies of the Australian Anglican legal approaches to certain questions of the day. Cunningly, the recent election in Australia, producing a hung parliament - somehow appropriate following the 'political execution' of Kevin Rudd - has also been contrived in order to distract from this imminent thrashing. The lengths some people will go to ... :)
Anyway, the Anglican discussion is well captured by David Ould and posted on Stand Firm. In essence it boils down to this question: has the 'Tribunal' level of examination of the question of women bishops taken a generous view of the wording of the canons of the Anglican Church of Australia to permit women assistant bishops*, but taken a miserly view of the wording of the canons to prohibit diaconal presidency at communion? (*I understand that no amount of expansive interpretation of the canons could support women diocesan bishops. All agree that this would require actual change to the canons by synodical process of the church).
Naturally, a dispassionate, overseas Australophile observer such as myself is intrigued by this discussion.
Intrigue (1): the Sydney Diocese, via its Synod, has also been very keen on lay presidency, but this does not seem to figure in the discussion. Why not? If lay presidency and diaconal presidency are being supported on the basis (as I understand it) that Scripture does not prohibit both and so neither should the canons of the church, why a concern that focuses only on diaconal presidency?
Intrigue (2): is the matter important to the Diocese of Sydney? It has been noticed on the blogosphere that the person fronting the Sydney case has been [Assistant] Bishop Glenn Davies, not Archbishop Peter Jensen himself. Perhaps one rather than the other is inconsequential. But is it at all possible that Archbishop Peter's credibility in the wider Communion needs him to be less rather than more associated with diaconal presidency? If so, is it possible that one day Sydney might 'get' the point that priestly presidency is Anglican, diaconal presidency is, well, something else?
Intrigue (3): Why the focus on the minutiae of canonical interpretation? Is there not a bigger theological picture here? Surely the two questions the Australian church should focus on, in a spirit of Anglican collegiality and communion, is whether (a) bishops being male, and (b) presidents at communion being priests or bishops is essential to being an Anglican church or not?
Still I may be misunderstanding things here. Including this fourth intrigue:
Intrigue (4): Is the Australian Anglican church one church made up of dioceses or a collection of dioceses which functions from time to time as one church?
Keen on the Communion as I am, and hopeful that one day we might become a worldwide church, even I have to recognise that if the answer to the question immediately above is the latter rather than the former, then the future unity of the Communion has a very, very long way to go, because, perhaps, it first has to start in Australia.
Perhaps if we let them win the next rugby test they will feel better about things and more open to change ... :)