Sydney Anglicans' Jensen wants cordiality, not unity

Sydney's Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen has ridiculed the Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenical document on Mary released this month, telling ABC Radio that it was a "fudge" that won't be taken seriously by Reformation Christians.

The document, titled Mary: Grace and Hope In Christ, was released in Seattle by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).

Archbishop Jensen is widely regarded as the most influential Anglican cleric in Australia, presiding over the Diocese of Sydney, the country's largest. However his positions are thought not to represent any consensus that exists within the Anglican Church in Australia, or the worldwide Anglican Communion.

His comments were reported yesterday on ABC Radio National's Religion Report.

Archbishop Jensen said he predicted that the document "won't be successful at all, because it doesn't take seriously the objections of Reformation Christians - of whom I'm one, and of whom there are many - to the practices and the beliefs that the report seeks to endorse".

"I understand when a commission gets together, it seeks to find common ground, it seeks to go behind the existing quarrels and divisions, but I'm afraid the word 'fudge' has been used of it, and I think it is a fudge," said.

Asked if he thinks there is hope for a "united Western church", Archbishop Jensen replied "Certainly not".

"I never thought there was," he said. "The relationship between the churches ought to be as cordial as possible, I agree with that, certainly, and I hope and long for it. The idea of visible unity, I think, is a chimera; it's exhausted a lot of time and energy. The true unity of the church already exists. The prayer of Jesus 'that they may all be one' has always been answered - and is true, we are one in Christ already. Organisational unity is another matter altogether, and I think we're taking a lot of time and effort to try to achieve something that in the end will not be useful."

Meanwhile, the program also interviewed Dr Charles Sherlock, Anglican theologian and lecturer at the Melbourne College of Divinity, who is a member of ARCIC and was one of the original architects of the document.

He argued that serious study of the document will equip those who want to debate the question of Mary with a more informed approach to the Scriptures.

He said: "I think its strongest point isn't just about Mary; its strongest aspect, I think, is the way that it tries to bring together the three major approaches to the interpretation of scripture, which have emerged in the Christian tradition."

Venerating Mary (ABC Radio The Religion Report 25/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sydney Anglicans

Ecumenist Cardinal's high hopes for new document (CathNews 24/5/05)

Protestant identity threatened, says Jensen (Sydney Morning Herald 6/4/05)

26 May 2005