Australian Anglican diocese proposes no discipline over Communion minus priests

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2004

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Leaders of the Anglican Church of Australia's large Sydney Diocese recommended against formal authorization for Communion services without priests but said no disciplinary action should be taken if non-priests lead the sacrament.

The proposal, sent to an October diocesan meeting, says there is no doctrinal or biblical basis for refusing to let deacons and lay members preside at Communion.

Anglican church tradition worldwide has always limited celebrations to priests. The Sydney Diocese has discussed changing that practice since 1977.

England's Church Times interpreted the new proposal as a way to allow so-called "lay presidency" without exposing Sydney's Archbishop Peter Jensen to challenge in church courts.

Jensen is among candidates mentioned in the upcoming selection of the Anglican Church of Australia's new leader.

A 1997 ruling said only Australia's national Anglican synod could approve such a radical change. The national synod meeting in early October has been expected to discuss lay presidency.

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