A Catholic church in rural Australia had graciously offered its sanctuary for the ordination service of several undisaffected Anglican ordinands. But when it was learned that some of the ordinands were women, the Vatican stepped in.
Sandhurst Bishop Joe Grech offered Bendigo Anglican Bishop Andrew Curnow use of the city's oldest Catholic church for the celebratory service because the Anglican cathedral is closed for repairs. Bishop Grech said yesterday that he had checked widely before offering St Kilian's, and had the approval of the Papal Nuncio (ambassador), Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto.ENI has more:
But he was ordered to withdraw the offer by a Vatican department - he did not want to say which - after a Catholic complained to Rome about the planned service.
Local Catholics criticised the decision and apologised to Anglicans in letters to the Bendigo Advertiser. Beryl Rokesky wrote: ''I was ashamed to call myself a Catholic … Contrary to what we were taught in Catholic schools, Catholics aren't the only ones who will end up in heaven.'' Peter Bugden wrote that the decision was evidence that the Roman Curia was concerned with power and control, and that Christianity had been usurped by Churchianity.
Curnow told Ecumenical News International that he had been informed that the decision was entirely due to the presence of women in the ordination line-up. "It was felt that this would be sending the wrong signal regarding the ordination of women from a Catholic perspective," he said.More about Peta Sherlock in this news story from 2003.
The dean of the Anglican cathedral, the Rev. Peta Sherlock, said the church had received many telephone calls from lay members of the Catholic Church "expressing sadness" that the ordination was not allowed to go ahead in the Catholic building.
As a guest of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity the Archbishop of Canterbury said recently "the major question that remains is whether in the light of that depth of agreement the issues that still divide us have the same weight – issues about authority in the Church, about primacy (especially the unique position of the pope), and the relations between the local churches and the universal church in making decisions (about matters like the ordination of women, for instance)."