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PERTH, Australia: Church split over woman bishop

PERTH, Australia: Church split over woman bishop

by Gail Williams
May 17, 2008

A BREAKAWAY group of Anglicans will snub the historic ordination of Australia's first woman bishop, West Australian Kay Goldsworthy, this week.

They claim the event is the death of traditional religion as stated in the Bible.

Kay Goldsworthy -- who will become assistant bishop to Archbishop Roger Herft -- is being consecrated amid pomp and theatre in a ceremony in St George's Cathedral on Thursday.

As the church loses relevance and the number of worshipping Anglicans dwindles around Australia, the ceremony is being described by those who have waited 30 years for the moment as a big cause for celebration.

For others, it means "disaster".

About 120 former members of the Perth diocese, which has 6000 regular worshippers, are treating the event as a funeral wake.

Churches in Albany, Maylands, Brentwood and Lesmurdie will hold services for an increasingly disenchanted group known as the Traditional Anglican Communion _ a worldwide association of orthodox Anglicans opposed to what they call the secularisation of the church.

None of the priests observing the feast of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the body of Christ, will mention the ordination, saying it cuts adrift the Anglican Church from its roots in the early Christian Catholic Church.

"This, for us, will be a time of grieving, sadness, hurt and frustration because the church in which we have been nurtured will no longer exist," said Bishop Harry Entwistle, who left the mainstream Anglican Church in 2006 because of growing dissatisfaction with the liberal agenda.

Bishop Entwistle, formerly an archdeacon and rector of the Mt Lawley parish, said his opposition to the ordination of women was only one reason he had left the church, but it was symptomatic of a church in turmoil. Things would only get worse.

"Those Anglican churches in America and Canada that have taken this road are now in a chaotic state and losing members in vast numbers," he said. "It has been said before, but is worth remembering now, that any church which weds itself to the spirit of the age will soon find itself a widow in the next."

He said it would lead to confusion as Kay Goldsworthy's consecration would not be recognised in the evangelical diocese, including Sydney and in the North-West of WA.

"It's not the great triumphal thing that it is being made out to be," he said.

"The reality will be that it will not be certain any more as to whether ordained priests, male or female, have been ordained. It will be like tracing a pedigree of a dog at a dog show. You will have all these crossbreeds."


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