Lay presidency legislation stalls

Published December 1, 1998

The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, has halted the move towards lay presidency in his diocese by preventing third and final reading of his synod’s controversial lay-presidency legislation. But he opened the door to women’s ordination.

Archbishop Harry Goodhew stopped the lay-presidency legislation by ruling on the last day of the annual synod in October that it could not be heard during the session because an earlier motion had dealt with the same issue. Third reading has now been deferred until next year.

Archbishop Goodhew had indicated he would refuse to give consent to the legislation if it passed. Given the large majority the bill commanded in its earlier readings, there was every indication it would pass easily.

The motion that stalled the legislation called for a separate bill at next year’s synod to authorize a five-year experiment with lay and diaconal presidency in the diocese.

In a separate surprise statement, the archbishop said he would not withhold his assent to legislation to allow for women priests.

Archbishop Goodhew condemned some conservative Sydney parishes where women are unable to preach, read publicly, or lead prayers. The archbishop said he “found himself challenged to be open to consider a different approach” to women’s ordination.


Keep on reading

Skip to content