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Breakfast with Frost
On Sunday, 10 August 2003, Breakfast with Frost featured an interview with The Most Revd Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

Archbishop Peter Jensen
Archbishop Peter Jensen

PETER SISSONS: Now it's already being called the gay summit, the emergency meeting to which the Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the most senior figures in the Anglican church. Some people say it will be a make or break.

A last ditch attempt to prevent schism over the issue of homosexual clergy.

A short time ago I spoke to a leading evangelical, the Archbishop of Sydney. He's called the appointment of an actively gay bishop in America, catastrophic. I asked him wasn't that language a bit strong.

PETER JENSEN: No it's not strong, the Anglican communion worldwide of 70 million Christians does best when it's united.

This vote disunites us and causes serious difficulties for those of us who disagreed with the consequences of it.

PETER SISSONS: What's the central point on which you take issue with it?

PETER JENSEN: It's not really about sexual ethics, it's really about the authority of the Bible and God's way of being in charge of his own church.

The Bible is his word to us and my difficulty with the vote is that the Bible clearly speaks against the expression of homosexuality in gay sex and we are endorsing a man who publicly says that he does this. So it's a question of the authority of the Bible.

PETER SISSONS: But what is the key point in scripture, can you give us a text?

PETER JENSEN: Yes, in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus, but in the epistles to the Romans, Chapter 1, where Paul declares that this sort of behaviour is actually part of God's wrath on the human race. And then, in particular I Corinthians, Chapter 6, where the apostle again says that this sort of behaviour is inconsistent with being in the kingdom of God.

PETER SISSONS: So when the Archbishop of Canterbury convenes the bishops in October, what are you urging him to do?

PETER JENSEN: Well he's going to convene the senior bishops, the primates from round the world. I trust that they will do what they did at Lambeth in 1998, assert once more the teaching of scripture, which is the unbroken tradition of the church and is held by 99% of Christians around the world, and that they will make sure that those who hold to that traditional position are recognised and supported wherever that tradition is being broken. Whether in the US or in Canada, or perhaps one of these days, in the UK.

PETER SISSONS: But the appointment of Gene Robinson, is it a done deed now? There's nothing this October meeting can do about it.

PETER JENSEN: Well he hasn't been consecrated as yet but I take it it's a done deed. No, what we need to do is to make sure that the, that the protesting orthodox Christians - I have in mind Canada, for example, where the same problem in a different guise appears - that those protesting orthodox Christians are looked after, supported and made to feel welcome in our communion. That's, that's a crucial issue that must be handled.

PETER SISSONS: Wouldn't it be the most honest course of action to admit that this divide is irreconcilable and that there must be a schism, a realignment of some kind?

PETER JENSEN: No, I don't know that that would be the most honest. What people may want others to do, in some cases minority groups, is maybe to leave the church and cause a schism like that. I would counsel against that. I think that the minority group, for example in Vancouver or in the United States of America, should stay.

It's their church, they have not changed. But in order for them to be able to stay, they need to have the support of international forces, and the Archbishop of Canterbury in particular, so that they can keep their property and also guarantee the succession of their ministry.

So it's up to us to work hard with them. In the end we are going to have a realignment within the Anglican communion, but it will be more or less, I think, a church within a church.

PETER SISSONS: And this, this solution that you propose, is it the sort of flying bishop solution - that if you're dissatisfied with your own bishop, someone else is parachuted in and you owe your allegiance to him and you're part of his flock?

PETER JENSEN: Well dissatisfied is too weak a word for what we're seeing here. I've used the word catastrophic with reason - we are viewing a watershed in Christian relationships. Flying bishops are all very well but they need to be Episcopal oversight which will deliver.

And by delivering I mean protection of property, a guarantee of ministry and recognition that the protesting parties are authentically in their Anglican communion. We mustn't pussyfoot around with weak solutions.

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