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Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies has told Anglican supporters of same-sex marriage they should leave the church rather than “betray God’s word” in a scathing speech condemning progressive elements within the faith.  He said the church must focus on “evangelising Australia” rather than “the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world”. Dr Davies directed his strongest criticism for those that had moved to bless same-sex unions, such as the Wangaratta diocese in Victoria.  That decision has now been referred to the church’s internal appeals tribunal.

Addressing the 51st Synod of the Diocese of Sydney, Dr Davies warned the church had “entered treacherous waters” and called on those who supported same-sex marriage to leave.  “I fear for the stability of the Anglican Church of Australia.  These developments have the potential to fracture our fellowship and impair our communion” said Dr Davies, who is the Synod president.  “My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views, but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture.  Please leave us.

Dr Davies said “We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”  Dr Davies said to bless same-sex unions would be to “betray God’s word”.  He conceded “our view of marriage is not a popular one in Australia” and was also now contrary to the law.  The statement by Archbishop Davies has triggering a war of words with the country’s most senior Anglican, fuelling talk of a historic split in the faith of three million Australians.

In response the Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier, the country’s most senior bishop described same-sex marriage as a “social issue” and a matter of conscience.  It came as Dr Davies moved to reassure gay, lesbian and transgender believers they are still welcome at church saying those remarks were directed to “the bishops and those who want to change the doctrine of the church”, not to everyday churchgoers, he said.  “I would never say that to people in the pews.  They are our people.”  Dr Davies said same-sex attracted Anglicans were welcome in the faith, but did not shy away from saying that homosexual sex was a sin.

Dr Davies said he agreed with a controversial Instagram post by sacked rugby player Israel Folau proclaiming homosexuals and adulterers will go to hell.  “If you don’t believe in Jesus and follow his ways then you are going to hell,” Dr Davies said.  “It’s imperative for me to warn people.  It is a gospel issue, and we are about the gospel.”  However, the Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall, released a clerical note through his office saying “the Anglican Church in Southern Queensland has taken a different view”, adding that in his diocese “no one is asked to leave”.

Dr Davies’ address to the synod was his last as president and archbishop.  Archbishop Davies, who will retire next year, has led the conservative Sydney Anglican diocese since 2013.  The conservative Sydney diocese is angered by moves in Wangaratta and Newcastle to bless civil same-sex unions.  Dr Freier has referred the matter to the church’s internal appeals tribunal, but the Sydney diocese argues the national church has not been strong enough.  The Melbourne diocese recently voted to express its “sorrow to the bishop and synod of the diocese of Wangaratta for their approval of a liturgy that could be used to bless persons in same-sex relationships”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports