Bishop against choice for Vatican

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Bishop Gary Nelson said the Anglican church should not be represented in Rome by a priest who does not believe Jesus rose from the dead.
Camera IconBishop Gary Nelson said the Anglican church should not be represented in Rome by a priest who does not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Credit: Geoff Vivian

Geraldton’s Anglican Bishop has joined conservative colleagues all over the world in condemning the appointment of former Dean of Perth John Shepherd as head of his church’s mission to the Vatican.

Their opposition can be traced to a 2008 sermon Dr Shepherd gave which denied Jesus had physically risen from the dead.

“That belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus has been one which has been foundational since the New Testament times,” Bishop Gary Nelson said.

“But he has said he didn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus but rather, in loose terms, a spiritual resurrection.”

Like many senior Anglicans, Bishop Nelson said this disqualified Dr Shepherd from taking that job.

“He’s been appointed the interim director of what we commonly call the Rome Centre, which is a dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics in Rome,” the bishop said. “When you are dialoguing with the Roman Catholic Church and representing the Anglicans, to have positions which traditionally Roman Catholics and the majority of Anglicans don’t hold, this seems to be a bizarre appointment.”

Bishop Nelson is head of the Anglican diocese of North West Australia, which extends from Dongara to the WA border and north to Kununurra. He is known to disagree on various issues, including ordination of women, with the Anglican Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Kay Goldsworthy.

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