By Kathleen Carmody
Perhaps in an attempt to foster improved ecumenical relations, The Australian newspaper last week brought together the Anglican
and Catholic churches by mistakenly labelling the Anglican Bishop of North Sydney, Dr Paul Barnett, a Catholic.
In a piece entitled ‘Catholics rebuke primate’, Dr Barnett was described in the April 11 issue
of The Australian as a “senior Catholic cleric”. He was also described as the “acting bishop administrator of Sydney until the arrival later this year of George Pell”. Dr Barnett’s name was also incorrectly spelled
as Dr Barrett.
A spokesman for the Anglican Church, Jeremy Halcrow, described the mistake as surprising, as the journalist had contacted the bishop personally for his comments. Mr Halcrow said it was the
worst example of faith misreporting by the secular press he could remember.
Dr Barnett was criticising comments made by primate of the Anglican Church, Dr Peter Carnley, about the true meaning of Easter. Dr
Carnley had said that common teachings about the death of Jesus on the cross were inadequate and simplistic. He said that it was wrong to assume that God allowed Jesus to die a horrible death in return for forgiving
the sins of the world.
Dr Barnett responded by saying that the Perth archbishop was at odds with both the teachings of the New Testament and official Anglican teaching. He said that Dr Carnley’s words made
Church teaching about Jesus’ death seem “crass, heartless and unjust”.
“Many Anglicans around Australia will be saddened that their primate has again expressed himself in the way he has at Easter, where the
core beliefs of Christianity are remembered and treasured,” Dr Barnett said.
Mr Halcrow said that the story would have been more interesting had the paper got its facts correct, as it reflected a schism
within the Anglican Church.
“(The Australian) would have the opportunity to break a story if they knew it because a dispute between a primate and the bishop is a big thing,” said Mr Halcrow.
been ongoing tension between Sydney bishops and the primate for a while. So it’s a continuation of that.”
Bishop Barnett is the administrator of the Anglican diocese of Sydney following the retirement last
month of Archbishop Harry Goodhew.