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Monday, 20 June 2005
Page: 135


Mr SLIPPER (9:16 PM) —On Sunday, 19 June I was privileged to be present at the farewell Pontifical High Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at All Saints Anglican Church, Wickham Terrace, Brisbane. The bishop presiding was Bishop David Chislett SSC, who had been the Rector of All Saints, Wickham Terrace for a period of 10 years. The Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Archbishop John Hepworth, was also present.


Mr Pyne —Hear, hear! Good man.


Mr SLIPPER —He is a good man. Unfortunately, Archbishop Aspinall has withdrawn the licence of Bishop Chislett because of Bishop Chislett’s support of Catholic orthodoxy in the Anglican Church. I believe that this action by Archbishop Aspinall seriously brings into doubt his moral fitness to be the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane. In the minutes available to me, I want to state extracts from the farewell sermon by Bishop Chislett at the pontifical high mass.

Today is one of the saddest days of my life. My heart is broken.

…            …            …

I am sad beyond belief because being Rector of All Saints’ Wickham Terrace has never been a “job” for me so much as being part of a FAMILY; and unlike other times when I’ve moved on, I have been forced to leave you against my will.

We have had ten good years together. They have been years of hard work. But they have also been years of blessing and growth. Together we have proclaimed and lived the Good News of Jesus right in the heart of this beautiful City of Brisbane, and we have seen many people—indeed, some of YOU here present today—discover Jesus for the first time.

In fact, as I look out over the congregation—

and it was a full congregation—

my heart is touched by the presence of so many who have allowed me to share deeply in your life and death circumstances.

If there is something I want you to remember about my time with you, it is that together we became part of what Pope John Paul II called the New Evangelization. In other words, together we have brought men and women to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. We have become “Evangelical Catholics.” Our hearts truly “burn within us” as we allow Jesus to speak to us through the Scriptures, and we continually recognise him in the “Breaking of the Bread” (Luke 24). I am reminded of some words of Pope Benedict when he was still just dear old “Cardinal Ratzinger” in May 2004:

“Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional rather than as an encounter with Christ, which explains why they don’t see it as a source of joy. If we stay with this impression, we do not live the essence of Christianity, which is an ever new encounter, an event thanks to which we can encounter the God who speaks to us, who approaches us, who befriends us. It is critical to come to this fundamental point of a personal encounter with God, who also today makes himself present, and who is contemporary. If one finds this essential centre, one also understands all the other things. But if this encounter is not realized, which touches the heart, all the rest remains like a weight, almost like something absurd. We need to understand Christianity in a personal way, from the point of view of an encounter with Christ.”

…            …            …

Following my consecration, and then my suspension, I received so many personal letters of encouragement from Anglican, Continuing Anglican, Roman Catholic, Russian, Greek and Antiochan Orthodox leaders, indicating that they understand full well just how difficult it now is for those Anglicans who really believe the Catholic Faith. For example, a well-known Roman Catholic Monsignor (not from Brisbane Archdiocese), the author of a number of significant books, began his letter thus:

“Dear Bishop David,

“Pardon my tardiness, but please accept my belated congratulations on the great step taken. It had to be done, otherwise the decay and deceit would just roll on and on, as the good people drift and wander.

“... I have followed some of the responses, positive, vague, silly and downright nasty, and that confused range of reactions should assure you that taking a stand for Faith and Order is always costly.”

I return to what Bishop Chislett said:

For most of its history, All Saints’ has stood firm for the undiluted Catholic Faith. Its people have always been taught that they are Catholics first and Anglicans second (the order we claim is required of us by our historic Anglican formularies). In fact, that is a summary! As I said in my Annual Meeting Address back in February, we are first of all CHRISTIANS; then we are CATHOLICS; then we are EVANGELICALS; and then, I guess, if after all that there’s still some time left over, we are ANGLICANS! That’s our priority order. In that respect we are different to those parishes that merely have a “high church” flavour and believe in a separate religion called “Anglicanism.” In fact, Anglicans like us have been left between THE Rock and a Hard Place by the relentless departure of liberal Anglicanism from the Faith once delivered to the Saints in all sorts of different areas, but objectively and sacramentally in the ordination of women which, as so many women and men around here will tell you, destroys not just the iconic value of the nuptial imagery at the heart of the Scriptures, the Gospel and the Faith, but also our confidence in the sacramental life of dioceses like this one that have embraced the changes.

I salute Bishop Chislett and his service to the faith.