It was wonderful to be able to celebrate all the services of Holy Week with a congregation this year and to see so many of you present at some of the services, even though at a distance and to be able to share these central moments of our faith through the various liturgies. We have also had remarkable numbers of people who have joined us online for these live services with a combined figure of over 50,000 joining us for all or part of these liturgies during Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Without reading too much into statistics and online engagement it does indicate that we will need to continue streaming our major Cathedral services for the long term after everything has opened up once again, yet encouraging those who are able, to gradually return to live attendance at services. Many thanks to all who have worked hard over these recent weeks to prepare everything within the Cathedral for all our Easter Celebrations and contributed to the various liturgies.
Over the course of the last few weeks the press highlighted a pronouncement from a Vatican Congregation regarding blessings of same sex partnerships. The document said a lot more than a denial of the facility to bless such unions and I include Archbishop Malcolm’s letter to the clergy regarding this and our pastoral response.
The recent response by the CDF to a dubium on the blessing of same-sex unions has caused some hurt amongst the faithful of the archdiocese and beyond. I have received correspondence myself on the issue, with one father writing in a letter that his son, who is gay, “is suffering because he has read about the recent pronouncement.” I am sure that the sentiment of this parent will echo the sentiments of many parents, and I have no doubt that this suffering is felt acutely. I also know that some of you will have heard similar sentiments from people you minister to and, perhaps, you have felt it yourselves. It is important therefore that we reach out to all our LGBT+ brothers and sisters, to show them that they have a place at the heart of our Church, and our archdiocese.
As Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, has been reported as saying recently, the latest pronouncement should give us greater impetus to another conversation about inclusion.
Indeed, our Synod is, in one sense, just this: staying faithful to Tradition, but being open, through our learning, reflection, prayer and discernment, to the new insights which the Holy Spirit offers to us about the depths and breadth of God’s creation.
We are a stronger and more powerful witness to Christ because of the presence of our LGBT+ brothers and sisters, indeed, because of the inclusion of all the people of God. Far from denying their experience, and the reality of their lives, we should learn from them and hear God speaking through that reality. We would be poorer without them.
It is my hope and prayer that we will find new ways of expressing this inclusivity, understanding the language we use, and employing the talents of everyone, to witness more profoundly in our lives as priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful, a fundamental Gospel teaching: that God’s love has no limits.”
Canon Anthony O’Brien Cathedral Dean