Archbishop Fred Hiltz and Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church. File photo: Sam Carriere
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has allied himself with the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archbishop Hiltz repeated some of the objections made by the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, to the Pentecost Letter that Archbishop Rowan Williams sent to the Communion May 28.
Archbishop Williams’ four-page missive concerned the ordination of openly homosexual bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions. In 2004, a majority of the Communion’s Primates (Chief Bishops) decreed that a moratorium was to be placed on these acts, along with cross-border Anglican interventions.
In his letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that those Anglican churches which breach the moratoria “formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops…should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged.
“This [sanction],” he continued, “is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice.”
What prompted this response was the consecration of Los Angeles Suffragan Bishop Mary Douglas Glasspool. She is the second openly gay, partnered bishop in the Episcopal Church.
In a statement Jun. 2, Bishop Jefferts Schori noted that Archbishop Williams’ proposed sanctions “do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviours in private.” She was referring to a common practice in which homosexual unions are informally blessed even though the Church of England has not sanctioned such blessings.
In his address to General Synod, Archbishop Hiltz said: “I also wonder when I see the word ‘formally’ italicized in the Archbishop’s letter. It leaves me wondering about places where the moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions is in fact ignored. The blessings happen but not ‘formally.’ “
Archbishop Hiltz did add that he thought the proposed sanction would not apply to the Anglican Church of Canada because to date, neither its General Synod nor its House of Bishops have authorized same-sex blessings on a national level.
He did, however, have concerns about the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. Of particular concern is section IV which speaks of “relational consequences for a Church should it make decisions deemed incompatible with the Covenant.”
In his opinion, said Archbishop Hiltz, this “reflects principles of exclusion with which many in the Communion are very uneasy. How can we hope to restore communion in our relationships if any one of us cannot or will not be heard?” Archbishop Hiltz asked.
Bishop Jefferts Schori is scheduled to address General Synod on Tues. Jun. 8. General Synod will also hear from the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion on Mon. Jun. 7.