Niagara Falls, Ont.
Bishops of The Anglican Church of Canada, at their semi-annual meeting, debated how best to express dismay, and in some cases, outrage, at the slow pace of talks with the government of Canada concerning the residential schools crisis.
(After the bishops’ meeting, a high-level delegation met with Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray in Ottawa.)
Several bishops, among them Ralph Spence of Niagara, said the church needs to be more vigorous in its approach toward the government. “We have done all the polite things. What would happen if the bishops descended on Ottawa for a day? We need more than just talk,” said Bishop Spence.
“We have to be more assertive,” said Bishop Gordon Beardy, of Keewatin, who added that he knows “maybe 100 native people who have been sexually abused who are waiting to sue the government; they don’t want to sue the church.”
However, other bishops counselled caution. “We must not forget we are Christian leaders and not show some rebellious attitude that is no different from people who don’t know Christ,” said Bishop Andrew Atago-taaluk of the diocese of the Arctic. Bishop Beardy, who is Oji-Cree, and Bishop Atago-taaluk, who is Inuit, are two of three native bishops in the Canadian church.
Another topic that generated heated discussion was the expectation that the diocese of New Westminster will vote this month on whether to ask Bishop Michael Ingham to allow the blessing of same-sex relationships.
The bishops received a report from a New Westminster committee that concluded there was no civil or church law that prevents the bishop of the diocese from authorizing the blessing of same-sex relationships. The report also recommended that Bishop Ingham consult with his colleagues and General Synod on the same-sex blessing issue.
The bishops also heard from Rev. George Sinclair, chair of an upcoming mid-June conference of the conservative Essentials movement, who said that Essentials is not a separatist movement, but a call to the church to “live out its orthodox Christian heritage.”
Bishop Barry Jenks, of British Columbia, questioned the use of the phrase “Global Anglicanism” on the Essentials conference leaflet. “Global Anglicanism is not represented by (conservative bishops) Yong Ping Chung and Morris Sinclair. It is much more diverse.” Mr. Sinclair invited Bishop Jenks to the conference, but the bishop said emphatically, “Thank you, but I decline the invitation.”