Magister gets it wrong on Bishop Robert Forsyth

One glaring error in Sandro Magister’s column on Kasper’s address to Lambeth is the description of Sydney bishop Robert Forsyth as “anglo-catholic”. He is most definitely NOT an “anglo-catholic”, but decidedly evangelical. has interesting comments on Forsyth’s speech to the Pope (full text here). Of special notice was the fact that he began his address to Pope Benedict (whom he called “sir”) with the disclaimer that

there are, and remain, very great and significant differences between us; differences which still matter today, including, if I may say so, even your very office.

He was at least gracious to acknowledge that he accepted the Holy Father “as a fellow Christian brother” – a acceptance which Pope Benedict certainly would have reciprocated, even if neither would have meant as a “brother in the episcopate”. He warmly acknowledged (and this is the point to which Magister was referring) that the Catholic Church has been

on many issues…a rock in the rapids that has actually helped the rest. Were it not for Rome’s strong insistence upon Christ as the only Saviour of the world, upon the “Catholic faith”, the nature of the Triune God, the divinity of Christ, the importance of sacred Scripture and of the objectivity of Christian morality, then the life of other Christian churches would have been so much more difficult, certainly for us here in the West.

The article noted that he did not point out the especial agreement between the Catholic Church and the Anglican diocese of Syndey over the matters of the ordination of women and homosexuals, but I think we can take what he said as referring to that. He was keen too on the Church’s “Year of Paul”, which, it should be pointed out, is being observed not only by the Catholic Church, but by many orthodox churches as well.

This report from CNA says that there were 15 leaders from other Christian communities present, including “Anglican…, Syrian Orthodox, Maronite Catholics [how were these included in an “ecumenical” meeting?], Indian Orthodox, Chinese Methodist, the Lutheran and Uniting churches”. This report adds that the AOG’s were represented and others report that there were Presbyterians there. That still leaves a few leaders unaccounted for. Does anyone have an exact list?

According to the same report

Youth representatives were also present at the event, where approximately fifty guests were present because of their involvement in the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales.

Several months ago, yours truly tried to talk his way in, but I never got beyond the initial and final answer “NO”.

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0 Responses to Magister gets it wrong on Bishop Robert Forsyth

  1. Victoria says:

    What, in your opinion did the pope mean by a common celebration of the Eucharist?

    “While Baptism is the starting point for ecumenical dialogue, the Pope said that, “The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist”

  2. Schütz says:

    Pretty clear in the context of Ecumenical Theology, Victoria. He meant that our common baptism is the basis for our ecumenical efforts (ie. we are, through justification by faith and baptism in the body of Christ (cf. Vat II, UR:3), already brothers and sisters in Christ), while “full communion” (literally, being able to join together in full communion in the sacrament of the Eucharist) is always the goal of our ecumenical endeavour. In otherwords, there is a tension between our baptismal unity and our lack of eucharistic communion. It is this tension which drives the whole ecumenical endeavour.

  3. Peregrinus says:

    “The article noted that he did not point out the especial agreement between the Catholic Church and the Anglican diocese of Syndey over the matters of the ordination of women and homosexuals, but I think we can take what he said as referring to that.”

    Well, perhaps not. I understand that Sydney is contemplating the formal introduction of lay eucharistic presidency (male and female, incidentally), and indeed I’m led to understand that lay presidency is already a practical, if low-key, reality in the diocese.

    What this suggests to me is that the Sydney Anglican and Catholic concepts of “ordination” are so far removed from one another that, from the Catholic perspective, it hardly mattes who Sydney ordains.

  4. Schütz says:

    Yeeees, maybe. But the thing is that Sydney still very strongly opposes women clergy. For them it is an authority issue (a woman cannot have authority over a man, by their reading of scripture). They have no problem with women lay presidents becaue they do not regard the issue of eucharistic presidency as an authority issue. But whatever the differing understanding of priesthood is, you can be absolutely sure that they are agreed with us that a woman cannot be a bishop.

  5. Peregrinus says:

    Yes, but my point is that their understanding of what a “bishop” is is so very different from ours that this is more the appearance of agreement rather than a substantial agreement.

  6. Schütz says:

    The protestant understanding of the episcopate differs from ours in so far as our understanding of the underlying priestly nature of the office differs. From all other points of view, their understanding of a bishop is pretty much that which they inherited from the pre-Elizabethan English Church.

  7. Peregrinus says:

    “Protestant” is a fairly flexible word; lots of protestants reject the episcopate entirely. And, while it may be true that Anglicanism as a whole started off with a concept of the episcopate inherited from pre-Reformation English Catholicism (a) they’ve come some way since then, and (b) Sydney Anglicanism is hardly mainstream Anglicanism.

    As you say, the reason why Sydney Anglicans will not contemplate a woman bishop – or, indeed, a woman priest – is that, in their view, a woman cannot have authority over a man. Catholics don’t actually share this view. It is common, for example, in a priestless Catholic parish for the appointed administrator to be a woman, whereas it would be unthinkable to Sydney Anglicans for a woman to lead a parish. (In fact, I understand, they won’t even appoint an unmarried man to preside over a parish.)

    In other words, there’s a sharp contrast between the two Archbishops of Sydney; George will happily see women exercising authority in his diocese (except in roles which also require eucharistic ministry), but would never contemplate their presiding over the eucharist; Philip takes a diametrically opposite view. Neither will consecrate a woman bishop but that is because, for George, “bishop” is essentially a label applied to a particular form of Eucharistic ministry whereas, for Philip, the term describes first and foremost a particular ministry of authority.

    It is because of their shared historical roots that both use the term “bishop”, but they are in fact talking of different ministries. In terms of their views as to the ministries that a woman can exercise, their views oppose more than they coincide.

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