New Australian Anglican Archbishop Says Church Should Reach Beyond Ethnic, Religious Affiliations

The new Anglican Archbishop of Australia, Bishop Glenn Davies, said that Christians need to show compassion and care to all who are made in God's image, regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliations, referring specifically to asylum seekers.

"What we need to do as a Christian church is call upon the Government to act with compassion and care for people who are made in the image of God, regardless of their ethnic origin, their religious affiliation," Dr. Davies said, according to ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Davies was elected on Tuesday by the 800 member body of the church's synod. He succeeds Peter Jensen, who held the position for 12 years. The Anglican Church of Australia is the country's second largest church with close to 4 million members, second only to the Roman Catholic Church in Australia.

Some notable Anglican leaders in Australia have welcomed the appointment of the 62-year-old Davies, with Dr. Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, sending his good wishes in an official statement.

"Archbishop Davies is already known and widely respected for his contribution to the life of the national church, as a member of General Synod since 1996, and the General Synod Standing Committee since 2007; and as a member of the General Synod Doctrine Commission since 1993. He was also appointed as Canon Theologian in the Diocese of Ballarat in 2000," Freier's statement read.

"I have worked closely with Dr. Davies on the Doctrine Commission and respect his intellect and willingness to engage in genuine theological dialogue."

Davies has described himself as overwhelmed by the decision, and admitted that at his age, he thought that a younger nominee was more likely to get the job.

"But I think the synod thought my experience equipped me for the kind of challenges that the Archbishop of Sydney faces," he added.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Davies said last week that the Archbishop needs to "encourage parishes to proclaim Christ and invite people to be saved through him."

Australia has faced a significant growth in asylum seekers in recent times, many of them arriving by boat from neighboring countries, which has caused the Oceanic country to review its policies on asylum seekers.

Davies said that as part of his new role, he will reach out to asylum seekers, and reminded Christians that it is important to show them empathy.

"My concern is that often asylum seekers when they're in detention are unemployed and I cannot see, unless I'm mistaken, we don't give them any gainful work to do," Davies said.

"Part of God's gift is to be able to be creative and to do things. If you're just sitting in a detention centre, that's demoralizing and demeaning."

The new Archbishop's official inauguration is scheduled for August 23.

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