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Statement from Archbishop-elect, Dr Peter Jensen

Posted on: June 15, 2001 12:47 PM
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7 June 2001

[Anglican Media Sydney] Speaking to Sydney's assembled media at a press conference on Thursday 7 June, Canon Peter Jensen, Archbishop-elect of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, made the following opening statement:

"I want to make this brief statement to begin.

"First, I want to stake my life on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That's the agenda; that's the news as far as I'm concerned. The main contest today in the world in which we live is a contest between the men and women who think that this world is all there is - and therefore there is no hope, no eternal life, no God, no forgiveness of sins, no Holy Spirit - and those who believe, as I do, that God is true, that his kingdom will come, that there is eternal life and that angels exist. I believe in the Holy Spirit, and angels, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That's what I'm on about.

"Flowing on from that as a second point, I believe there is a link between that first position of not believing and the grave social difficulties we are experiencing in our community. A lack of hope infects our young people, and contributes to such evils as the gambling mania that plays such a prominent part in our society today. As a community, we should be intensely worried about gambling. I think we should be worried about the volume of pain and suffering that this and, of course, other materialistically-dominated activities bring in our community, and we ought to be sorry for the way in which our governments have incorporated so much gambling revenue into the state revenues, for we are all living on the suffering of other people.

"Third and last, if we want a real test for the humanity and the civilisation of our community, we must always look to the way in which we treat the lonely, the dispossessed, the vulnerable, and especially how we as a community treat prisoners and captives. Any Archbishop must first of all declare, as I am declaring today, a prior interest in those who are most vulnerable, in order that our consciences may be quickened.

"I want particularly today to call attention to the whole question of so-called 'illegal immigrants'. The very name itself begs the question. Very often, these people are legitimate asylum seekers, and there is a question before our community today about our treatment of such folk and how we handle the situation of their coming here. I believe that we are playing on some of the fears of the Australian community in an unfortunate way. I'm very sympathetic to the government, who have grave difficulties in handling this issue. I don't believe there are simple solutions. But I believe if we want to know whether our community is travelling well, we need to go to places like Villawood and ask ourselves how we are treating the alien and the stranger in our midst.

"All this flows, I think, from the resurrection from the dead. I believe that Jesus is alive, he is with us now, and I believe it's my business to tell people about this and to share that news with them."