Posted online 24 May 2005
Bishop David Chislett breaks the news of his removal from the Parish of All Saints Wickham Place, Brisbane
24 May 2005
Dear brothers and sisters,
Find below Archbishop Aspinalls ad clerum which went out around the Diocese of Brisbane today.
I met with him this morning. Aaron Simpson came with me as my legal representative and witness.
For the reasons given in my response to the Commissioners Report which I sent you a couple of weeks ago, it is clear that the Archbishops action is not based on any perceived dishonesty on my part, or on my contravening of the Constitution, Canons, Rules or Regulations of the Anglican Church of Australia in the Diocese of Brisbane. Rather it is based on an entirely subjective interpretation of what is grave cause to use the language of the Benefices Avoidance Canon.
I now believe that all Incumbents in the Diocese of Brisbane should worry about the security of their tenure in the light of this action; if they are wise, they will move in the Diocesan Synod to repeal the Benefices Avoidance Canon on the basis that it is unjust legislation, compared with, for example, the Tribunal Canon, and can be so easily used in such a way as to deny Incumbents natural justice. It is clearly out of step with the principles that undergird the laws of the State of Queensland and the Commonwealth of Australia.
I will be meeting with the Wardens of All Saints to work out the details of my departure from the Rectory. It is intended that there be a farewell service in a number of weeks' time.
As I have said during the last few months, all that remains for each of us is the keep the Faith whatever the cost, to focus only on the Lord Jesus our Saviour and King, to be strengthened by his Word and his Sacraments and look to the future in faith, believing his promises.
In due course I will communicate with you at greater length regarding the future.
Yours in Christ,
+ David Chislett SSC
Ad Clerum from Philip Asinall, Archbishop of Brisbane
(an Ad Clerum is a letter to the clergy.)
24 May 2005
Dear brothers and sisters
On 25 February 2005 I met with the Commissioners under the Benefices Avoidance Canon and referred to them a report that Father David Chislett had been consecrated a Bishop and was now a Suffragan Bishop in the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, which is part of the Traditional Anglican Communion.
The Commissioners are elected every three years at Synod, and are at present: the Venerable Archdeacon Richard Gowty, the Reverend Canon Bruce Maughan, the Reverend Ian Trainor, Mr Tony Levick and the Honourable Justice Debra Mullins [Justice Mullins was appointed by the Diocesan Council to fill a vacancy].
During the course of their inquiry, the Commissioners addressed a number of questions to Fr Chislett in writing, to which he responded in writing. Fr Chislett requested the opportunity to appear before the Commissioners to support his submission, and that hearing was held on 7 April 2005. A solicitor was present to act for the Diocese to give advice to the Commissioners, and Mr John Harley (who is a solicitor in Adelaide and the Chancellor of the Diocese of The Murray) was present to provide legal advice to Fr Chislett. The hearing was recorded and the transcript was provided to Fr Chislett.
The Commissioners provided Fr Chislett with a draft of their report, and he responded to the draft by letter. The report was not materially altered by the Commissioners after receipt of the letter, and they delivered the report to me on 17 May 2005.
The findings of the Commissioners were
After a great deal of thought and prayer, and taking advice from those around me, I have come to the conclusion that for the good of the Parish and of the wider Church in the Diocese and beyond, I should act on the advice of the Commissioners. Accordingly I have handed Fr Chislett today an Instrument of Deprivation as provided for in the Canon, which removes him from his position as Rector of the Parish of All Saints Wickham Terrace.
Fr Chislett in both his written and oral submissions to the Commissioners gave a detailed account of events in relation to the ordination of women in the Anglican Church since August 1977. The Commissioners record that Fr Chislett dealt movingly with what he called the crisis of 1992, when the General Synod passed a canon which provided for the ordination of women to the priesthood. He told the Commissioners of the pain and sorrow of those who had been effectively unchurched by what had happened. He explained to them that it was after this 1992 vote catholic Anglicans made it clear the only satisfactory way they could stay within the Anglican Communion was with some kind of alternative episcopal oversight a request that had been steadfastly rejected by the Australian bishops.
The Commissioners record that Fr Chislett made the point that the intention of his consecration was that he be consecrated a Bishop in the Church of God who would then have capacity to serve within both the Anglican Church and the ACCA.
The Commissioners state that they are unreserved in accepting that Fr Chislett has acted genuinely to heal the pain and sorrow suffered by Anglican catholics and in a way which he saw as necessary to initiate a solution for the perceived lack of alternative episcopal oversight provided to Anglican catholics within the Anglican Church.
However, Fr Chisletts action was in fact an anomalous way to act, a way fundamentally inconsistent with his position within the Anglican Church. The resolution of the pain and sorrow that he described to the Commissioners has yet to be fully addressed, but in my view it will have to be within the structures of this Church, and not outside of them. I fully acknowledge that these matters have not yet reached a satisfactory solution, and I am committed to working for a solution that will be for the good of all people who are participating in the debate about the ordination of women.
I have written to the Churchwardens, asking them to arrange to give Fr Chislett all of his entitlements. The Diocese will assist with his removal expenses. I have also asked the Churchwardens to let Bishop Richard Appleby or me know if there is any desire for a group of parishioners to meet with one of us. Bishop Appleby will be working with the parish officials on locum tenens arrangements and then on the arrangements that will lead to the appointment of a Rector.
I urge you and your people to keep within your prayers Fr David Chislett and the people of All Saints, Wickham Terrace as they work to deal with this severance in their pastoral ministry. Please pray also for Bishop Appleby and for me as we begin to guide the parish through a period of locum tenens ministry to the appointment of their next Rector.
Yours in Christ
+ Philip Asinall
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