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Anglican Diocese of Brisbane

The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane is based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The diocesan bishop's seat is St John's Cathedral, Brisbane. The current Archbishop of Brisbane is Phillip Aspinall, who was formerly the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia.

Diocese of Brisbane
View St John's Cathedral, Brisbane 052013.jpg
Ecclesiastical provinceQueensland
CathedralSt John's Cathedral (Brisbane)
Current leadership
Parent churchChurch of England
ArchbishopPhillip Aspinall
(since February 2002)

The diocese stretches from the south-eastern coastline of Queensland, down to the New South Wales border, and west to the Northern Territory and South Australian borders. The diocese currently markets itself as "Anglican Church Southern Queensland" (ACSQ).[1][2] The "Anglicare Southern Queensland" brand is also heavily promoted by the diocese.[3]



The Diocese of Brisbane has a dominant liberal Anglo-Catholic ethos. Religious orders such as the Society of Saint Francis and the Oratory of the Good Shepherd have made Brisbane their Australian base. The Society of the Sacred Advent was also founded in the city.[4]

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall is, himself, a liberal Anglo-Catholic of the Affirming Catholicism school and gave the keynote address at the Australian Church Union's 2006 Keble Mass.[5]

Despite the dominant liberal Anglo-Catholic ethos, there are a handful of low church parishes in a few of Brisbane's southern suburbs, such as Coorparoo. However, according to an academic paper, the last time there was any major controversy about the Diocese's Anglo-Catholic orientation was in 1956.[4]

Through a motion that was passed at the 2014 synod, all priests in the diocese are encouraged to join the Brisbane chapter of the liberal Anglo-Catholic factional group, the Society of Catholic Priests. According to the synod minutes, to be a member, priests must, amongst other things, belong to a church that is in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, "believe that... the church should ordain... all those whom the church discerns as being called by God... regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation", believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and use and practise the seven [Catholic] sacraments.[6]


In 1858, the Brisbane diocese was separated from the Diocese of Newcastle. Until then, the area had been under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Newcastle, William Tyrrell.[citation needed]

In 1859,[7] Queen Victoria appointed the Diocese's first bishop, Edward Tufnell (1814–1896).[8] Tufnell designated St John's Cathedral in Brisbane as the pro-cathedral. The central stained glass windows in the apse were donated by Bishop Tufnell.[citation needed]

The second bishop was Matthew Hale, who was translated from Perth in 1876.[9] Hale was succeeded by William Webber.[10]

With the creation of the Province of Queensland in 1905,[11] the Diocese of Brisbane became the permanent metropolitan see and its bishop the metropolitan archbishop.[citation needed]

A bishops' house called Bishopsbourne (now Old Bishopsbourne) was built in Milton c. 1865 for Edward Tufnell. It was used by subsequent bishops and archbishops until Archbishop Philip Strong purchased the house Eldernell (formerly Farsley) at 39 Eldernell Street, Hamilton, in 1964, renaming it Bishopsbourne.[12]

In April 2007, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall sold the Hamilton residence for $11.2 million and moved to a residence in Ascot costing $2.6 million, which has also been renamed Bishopsbourne.[13][14]

Theological trainingEdit

Priests trained in the diocese must graduate from Saint Francis' Theological College. The principal of the college is Bishop Jonathan Holland.[15] A motion was put at the 2011 synod to investigate and review the college because of concerns about high drop-out rates and failure to prepare students adequately for ministry. According to the synod minutes, Bishop Holland blocked the review by changing the sub-clauses of the motion so that they praised the college instead.[16]

Another motion was put at the 2017 synod that would have allowed diocesan ordinands to study at the more Evangelical Brisbane School of Theology but this was not carried.[17]

Saint John's CathedralEdit

The Cathedral of Saint John was completed in 2005, after 100 years of construction.[18]

In 2015, a series of statues, costing $45,000 each according to the ABC, were purchased and blessed by Archbishop Aspinall before being installed on the cathedral's facade.[19]

Shortly before this, a storm warped one of the cathedral's walls, causing millions of dollars' worth of damage.[20][21]

Lobby groupsEdit

The dean of the cathedral, Peter Catt, is the founder of A Progressive Christian Voice and is, according to the Brisbane Times, an advocate for same-sex marriage. He also chairs the diocese's social responsibilities committee.[22][23]

The Angligreen environmental group is also a significant voice in the diocese.[16]


Biblical literacyEdit

Archbishop Aspinall has observed that, "Few Anglicans in Brisbane have any depth of knowledge of the Bible; few read or study the Bible regularly..."[24]

Transgender priestEdit

Archbishop Aspinall supported English-born Brisbane priest and Saint Francis' lecturer, Josephine Inkpin, when she came out as Australia's first openly-transgender priest. Aspinall's letter indicated he was aware "there are further transgender people involved in our wider diocesan life."[25] Inkpin's wife, Penny Jones, was one of the first female priests in the United Kingdom.[26]

Same sex marriageEdit

According to the Courier Mail, in 2015 the diocese's social responsibilities committee endorsed same-sex civil unions.[27]

In its 2017 synod, the diocese refused to affirm the prior National Synod's pledge to "uphold the traditional and biblical dynamic of marriage as exclusively of that between a man and woman, consecrated by God."[28]

In the same year, Bishop Jeremy Greaves, a same-sex marriage supporter,[29][30] preached at a "Pride" Evensong service at the cathedral.[31][32] In the sermon, Bishop Greaves referred to God as "she", celebrated homosexuality, declared "pride" is not a sin and stated that, "A Christian is simply someone who is hospitable."[33]

A large number of priests in the diocese publicly support same-sex marriage.[citation needed]

In a 2018 newspaper interview, Dean Peter Catt stated that he had been blessing same-sex couples "for years".[23] He declared that, "The form of blessing we have been practising cannot be banned or outlawed by church authorities, except through dramatic action."[23]

Reintegration of convicted child abusersEdit

According to the Courier Mail and Brisbane Times, two convicted child sexual abuser priests attended church, perform lay reader duties and worked in a choir with children at Holy Trinity Church, Fortitude Valley. This led to public outcry. Although defrocked, "they were later allowed to keep reading to the congregation as what's known as a lector." The matter was referred to the diocese's professional standards board.[34][35][36][37]

State-church relationshipEdit

Links to the militaryEdit

According to an academic paper by Jonathan Holland, Archbishop Philip Strong had opposed 13 other bishops from around the country who had spoken out against the war. Archbishop Strong had argued for National Service[38] and vigorously defended Australia’s support of America in Vietnam on the grounds that "Conflict at the right time and in the right place may serve the cause of ultimate world peace."[38] At the same time, the priest in charge of the Chermside parish sought to dismiss curates who took a Christian pacifist stance.[38]

Links to the legal communityEdit

According to the ABC, the diocese has close links to the legal establishment in Brisbane. This has led to public concerns about a serious conflict of interest.[39][40][41]

Dissident parishEdit

The conservative Anglo-Catholic parish, All Saints' Brisbane, joined the dissident Traditional Anglican Communion and the Forward in Faith movement in protest over the issue of the ordination of women and the diocese's refusal to provide alternative episcopal oversight. In response, Archbishop Aspinall suspended the priest in charge of the parish, David Chislett.[42][43][44][45] In a speech to Federal Parliament, Peter Slipper declared, "I believe that this action by Archbishop Aspinall seriously brings into doubt his moral fitness to be the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane."[46][47]

The following day, Slipper stated: "The situation is that there is now religious persecution by Archbishop Aspinall of traditional Anglicans. I believe that Archbishop Aspinall has to seriously consider resigning as Archbishop of Brisbane, because he is simply unfit to hold that high office."[48]

Royal commissionEdit

According to the ABC, the Diocese of Brisbane was subject to more complaints than any other Anglican diocese at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.[49]

In 2018, the ABC reported on an old scholars' association's declaration that they no longer wanted the diocese to control church schools "amid concern about the handling of child sexual abuse cases and its dated school governance practices".[50]

Victim compensationEdit

In 2009, the diocese refused to revoke an age limit for child sex abuse claims. According to the Brisbane Times, a motion calling for the Anglican Church to refrain from invoking the age limitation statute was rejected by the Brisbane synod. A victim said it showed the church was protecting its money rather than its flock.[51]

The ABC reported that another victim stated that "[We] sue the diocese because of the overwhelming evidence that the diocese knew about the abuse and knew about the offenders yet did nothing to stop the abuse nor prevent further abuse."[41]

In 2017, the diocese failed to meet two deadlines to pay another victim the compensation they were due. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, the victim's lawyer, Robert Singh, said that the handling of the payment "smack[ed] of arrogance" and treated the survivor "with disdain... I’ve been involved in scores of claims involving the Anglican church, and a leopard never changes its spots... It begs the question, have they learned anything from the royal commission and its outcomes? Their conduct has done nothing other than to cause [the survivor] further distress and anguish."[52] The diocese responded by saying the lawyer was just trying to generate publicity.[52] The victim replied that, "I don’t think the church has changed at all [since the Royal Commission]... If this is supposed to be a smooth process... I hate to think what the opposite of that would be, because it's been horrible, it really has. Not even a phone call... just an explanation... would be nice, you know?"[52]


On another occasion, a child abuse survivor who was threatening to sue the diocese, alleged to the Guardian newspaper that Archbishop Aspinall told him that litigation against the church would be sinful. Aspinall again denied the claims.[53]

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Aspinall himself has, though, confirmed the highly political nature of the diocese, telling the royal commission that "The Anglican Church makes Federal Parliament look like kindergarten."[54]

According to the diocesan handbook, in keeping with the Anglo-Catholic nature of the diocese clergy must always wear a stole over the cassock or alb when celebrating the Eucharist (plain clothes or business suits are not allowed).[55] No unordained person, not even a special guest, is allowed to give a sermon or speech in church without the express permission of the Archbishop and the local parish priest.[55]


The diocese has a strong ecumenical relationship with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.[56][16]

The diocese only recognises church denominations with an episcopal form of government. In 2002, Aspinall suggested that the Uniting Church in Australia adopt such a form of governance.[57]

The Anglican, Roman Catholic and Uniting churches perform some collaborative ministry and the Lutheran Church of Australia has been in discussions with them.[55]


According to a synod paper, between 2011 and 2016, the number of parishioners in the diocese declined by 7%.[58]


Archbishops of BrisbaneEdit

Bishops of Brisbane
From Until Incumbent Notes
1859 1874 Edward Tufnell
1875 1885 Matthew Hale Translated from Perth.
1885 1903 William Webber Died in office.
1904 1905 St Clair Donaldson Became Archbishop of Brisbane
Archbishops of Brisbane
From Until Incumbent Notes
1905 1921 St Clair Donaldson Translated to Salisbury.
1921 1933 Gerald Sharp Died in office.
1934 1943 William Wand Translated to Bath and Wells and later to London.
1943 1962 Reginald Halse Translated from Riverina; knighted in 1962; died in office.
1963 1970 Philip Strong Translated from New Guinea; Primate of Australia, 1966–1970.
1970 1980 Felix Arnott Previously coadjutor bishop in Melbourne.
1980 1989 John Grindrod Previously Bishop of Riverina and then of Rockhampton; Primate of Australia, 1982–1989; knighted in 1983.
1990 2001 Peter Hollingworth Translated from the Inner City, Melbourne; Governor-General of Australia, 2001–2003.
2002 present Phillip Aspinall Previously assistant bishop in Adelaide; Primate of Australia, 2005-2014.

Assistant bishopsEdit

Among the previous assistant bishops of the Diocese of Brisbane were Henry Le Fanu (bishop coadjutor), who became Archbishop of Perth and Primate of Australia, and John Parkes who is now the Bishop of Wangaratta.[citation needed]

The current assistant bishops are Ian Lambert (bishop to the Australian military who is a suffragan bishop of the diocese),[59] Jonathan Holland (principal of Saint Francis' College), Cameron Venables (Bishop of the Western Region since 2014), Jeremy Greaves (Northern Region since 2017) and John Roundhill (Southern Region since 2018).[60][61][15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "The Anglo-Catholic Tradition in Australian Anglicanism" (PDF). Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Archives & Newsletters". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Consecration Of The Bishops Of Bangor, Brisbane, And St Helena", The Times, 15 June 1859, p. 10.
  8. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory 1975-76 London: Oxford University Press, 1976 ISBN 0-19-200008-X
  9. ^ Diocese of Brisbane[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Shaw, George P. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 1 September 2018 – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  11. ^ Anglican Diocese of North Queensland – History Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Old Bishopsbourne (entry 600254)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Bishopsbourne, Hamilton (formerly Eldernell)". Your Brisbane: Past and Present. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  14. ^ Cumming, Gillian (26 March 2007). "Great expectations for Farsley". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^
  18. ^ "100-year construction completed on Brisbane cathedral". 11 November 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Hand-carved statues raised into place at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane". 28 January 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  20. ^ Atfield, Cameron (18 February 2015). "St John's Cathedral's $3 million storm damage bill". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Morton, Shae McDonald and Jim (28 July 2017). "Time has come for gay marriage: Queensland priest". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  23. ^ a b c Catt, Peter (8 July 2018). "It is time for churches to formally recognise same-sex relationships and marriages". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  24. ^ The Once and Future Scriptures: Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Salem, OR: Polerbridge, 2013.
  25. ^ "Archbishop's statement on sex-change priest". 24 July 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Meet Australia's first transgender priest". 23 February 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  27. ^ Vogler, Sarah (November 7, 2015). "Same-sex marriage: Arm of Anglican Church supports civil unions in Queensland". Courier Mail. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Rector Jeremy Greaves - Australian Marriage Equality". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  30. ^ "'She's a whore, but she's my mother': Reverend shares thoughts on the church". 20 March 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  31. ^ "September 17 - Evensong.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Pedophile, 'seedy priest' teaching kids". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  36. ^ "Singing priest dumped". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  37. ^ Branco, Jorge (4 May 2016). "Anglican Church investigates Brisbane parish over paedophile readings". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  38. ^ a b c
  39. ^ "Qld Governor faces conflict of interest claims over role in sex abuse law review". 12 February 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  40. ^ "Doubts raised about Queensland judges' links to Anglican Church". 13 February 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  41. ^ a b "Governor's role in thwarting church's sex abuse reforms". 14 February 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  42. ^ "David Chislett removed from Wickham Terrace". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  43. ^ All Saints Brisbane
  44. ^ Durut, Charlotte (22 October 2009). "Conservative Anglicans come around to Catholic way of thinking". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  45. ^ "Anglicans dump bishop for rejecting women priests". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 May 2005. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  46. ^ "ParlInfo - ADJOURNMENT : Bishop David Chislett". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  47. ^
  48. ^ "ParlInfo - ADJOURNMENT : Bishop David Chislett". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  49. ^ "Anglican Church 'ashamed' about 1,000 complaints of child sex abuse". 17 March 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  50. ^ "Churchie old boys tell Anglican Church to hand over schools or risk donations". 9 February 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  51. ^ "Qld Anglicans put money before morals: sex victim". Brisbane Times. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  52. ^ a b c Knaus, Christopher (30 September 2017). "Anglican church failed to pay child sex abuse survivor agreed $1.5m settlement". the Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  53. ^ Press, Australian Associated (9 November 2015). "Brisbane archbishop 'told abuse victim to ditch sinful path' of litigation, inquiry told". the Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  54. ^ Armitage, Catherine (27 November 2013). "Anglican Church register of sex abuse complaints out of date, royal commission hears". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  55. ^ a b c
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^ Office, Anglican Communion. "Diocese - Australia - Brisbane". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  60. ^ General Synod Information Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  61. ^

External linksEdit