Mississauga , Ont.
Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon has withdrawn his offer of episcopal oversight to parishes in the diocese of New Westminster that do not agree with the blessing of same-sex unions. “It is apparent to me that the way ahead in this regard is to allow a new process and … it is necessary for me to now withdraw,” he wrote in a letter to the coalition of parishes called the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW). The “process” refers to a task force set up Oct. 31 by the house of bishops that will examine how to care for minorities who disagree with church policies. The task force, whose members have not yet been named, will report back to the spring bishops’ meeting. The Nov. 7 letter said that Bishop Buckle, who could not be reached for comment, reached his decision “after much prayerful thought and reflection.” He also wrote to the parishes that he had “attempted prayerfully to lead you this far, assisting you to remain in the Anglican Church of Canada, as requested.” And he added, “I encourage you to stand strong together as you work through your response to the Canadian house of bishops.” An ACiNW spokesperson described the coalition as “cautiously optimistic.” Lesley Bentley said, “We’re grateful the house (of bishops) has seen a need for episcopal oversight for our parishes. We’re now on the agenda.” Bishop Buckle’s letter was released by Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon, at the regular fall meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS). “I was just delighted?” to receive the letter, said Archbishop Crawley in an interview. [pullquote]The bishop of New Westminster , Michael Ingham, said Bishop Buckle’s decision was “a step forward in restoring the order of the church” and he prayed it would lead to reconciliation within his diocese. Bishop Buckle’s “illegal interference… has been the principal obstacle to reconciliation” in New Westminster , he said in a statement.Bishop Ingham, who had previously announced that the diocesan chancellor had laid charges alleging disobedient conduct against seven clergy, added in his statment that he was seeking a stay of the proceedings. Archbishop Crawley told the CoGS meeting that he will suspend disciplinary proceedings against Bishop Buckle, whose offer to parishes in New Westminster contravened Bishop Ingham’s authority and is illegal under church law.