16 November (ENI)—The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Harry Goodhew, has rejected a decision by the synod of his diocese to allow lay people and deacons to preside at Holy Communion.
Had it been accepted, the synod's decision would have meant that a priest would not be necessary to celebrate Holy Communion, the main focus of Anglican liturgy. Critics of the synod's decision had said it was an attack on the priesthood that could split the Australian church and isolate the Sydney diocese from the world's Anglican community.
The proposal had it been approved by Archbishop Goodhew would have been a first for the world-wide Anglican Communion. Opponents had described it as a fundamental break with Anglican tradition and practice. But supporters of the move said that to prevent lay people from celebrating Holy Communion was going against Gospel teaching.
The Primate of the Australian church, Melbourne's Archbishop Dr Keith Rayner, welcomed Archbishop Goodhew's decision and called on Sydney's Anglicans to "support their archbishop and put this matter behind them".
However, supporters of the proposal, also known as "lay presidency" and "lay administration", have said that they will take the matter to the next meeting of General Synod, the national meeting of representatives from dioceses, to be held in the city of Brisbane in 2001.
In the same year Archbishop Goodhew's successor will be elected by the Sydney diocese. The support for lay presidency is clear-cut in the Sydney synod, which on 19 October voted two-to-one in favor. So the next archbishop of Sydney might well be a supporter of lay presidency.
Canon Bruce Ballantine-Jones, president of the evangelical-oriented Anglican Church League, said in a recent statement: "I don't believe ...1