Australia's Anglican Church has elected a progressive archbishop and theologian, Dr. Peter Carnley, as its new head.

The choice is likely to annoy church conservatives who have not forgotten that Dr. Carnley was the first bishop to ordain women priests in Australia, ordaining ten in 1992 before women's ordination had been agreed by the church's General Synod and starting a rift that some argue has not healed. Choosing the new Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia was apparently not straightforward for Australia's 20 bishops (all male), 12 clergy and 12 lay people who took part in the vote. They elected Dr. Carnley February 3, only on the fourth ballot. He won 24 votes to 17, ahead of Dr. Harry Goodhew, the conservative archbishop of Australia's most populous and powerful diocese, Sydney, who has yet to ordain a woman.

Dr. Carnley's progressive views on theology have long been a cause of concern among conservatives who claim his questioning of the physical resurrection of Christ, expressed in his book The Structure of Resurrection Belief, is heretical. But Dr. Carnley is no stranger to criticisms from the conservative camp within his own church. When the clergy argued in the 1980s over whether the church should ordain women, he sent a letter to priests in his diocese suggesting that those opposed to developments should leave.

In an interview immediately after his election, Dr. Carnley tactfully chose to address an issue on which all Anglicans agree. He told the West Australian, Perth's only daily newspaper, that the church had to address falling attendance figures. (The Anglican Church was for most of the twentieth century the biggest in Australia, but it has in recent years been overtaken by the Roman Catholic Church.) ...

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