​Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip


Christians make spiritual claims about land and its significance which are similar to those made by Indigenous Australians, and reconciled relationships are part of this, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, said last night.

Speaking at the opening of the Synod, or parliament, of the Melbourne Anglican Church in St Paul’s Cathedral, he said that Indigenous Australians “see land as culturally and spiritually significant” yet for non-Indigenous Australian culture, “land is more often a commodity to be bought and sold or the source of mineral and agricultural prosperity”.

Christianity, on the other hand, speaks of a “very different understanding about land, one that we do well as Christians within our non-Indigenous Australian culture to hear afresh”.

“Land matters to us and to God, it is given as a primary source of blessing. We are called to live in it, to care for it and to share it with reconciled relationships”.

He described reconciliation with Indigenous Australians as a “Christian imperative” and outlined plans for a Reconciliation Action Plan for the Melbourne Diocese, to be completed by 29 May 2015.

In a wide-ranging address, Dr Freier said that in what has been described as the Asian Century, Australia must note “the imperative of current patterns of global migration and how this plays out on our coastline.” “The asylum seekers in boats hoping for refuge in our country demand our compassion, action and prayer. Competing party political solutions struggle to take account of desperate people, abandoned by civil war and other turmoil.

“The message of Let’s fully welcome refugees, from the banner hanging even now on our cathedral, undergirds our collective effort to bring about a fairer, more humane solution”.

Dr Freier also commented on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “We must pray for Christ’s presence in the Royal Commission… [the Commission] is already disclosing a scale of abuse across a range of community organisations that most of us had been unaware of… I unreservedly express our abhorrence of any such abuse and our profound regret for harm done by any past or present member of the Anglican Church, clergy or lay worker.

“We welcome the insights which will come out of the Royal Commission and from the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Sexual Abuse. For more than 20 years, the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne has established codes of behaviour, policies, protocols, reporting and record-keeping to minimise the possibility of abuse. We continue to refine our practice and require all clergy and church workers to have professional standards training. We are not perfect, but our goal is best practice.

“We pray for truth, for healing, for restorative justice and for reconciliation. A better, safer childhood for all Australian young people must be our hope”.

Dr Freier also said that Christians “are called to be people of hope” and that fostering a “culture of hope” would be a key direction for the Diocese in the coming years.

 Related news