Clergy in the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador on Jan. 21 declared their loyalty to the Anglican Church of Canada as they renewed their ordination vows and received new licences signed by Bishop Cyrus Pitman.
About 100 priests attended the mandatory gathering at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s, Nfld., called by Bishop Pitman after his precedessor, now-retired bishop Donald Harvey, left the Canadian church in protest at more-liberal attitudes toward such issues as homosexuality.
“Today, my friends, is a fresh start,” Bishop Pitman said in his sermon. “It’s not a power grab as has been suggested by some. Whether someone is of a conservative bent or a liberal bent or some other bent, whatever these labels mean, I will support you … But let’s not make any mistake about it. There are boundaries.”
As reported in the February Anglican Journal, Bishop Pitman, in a December letter to his clergy, wrote that he expects priests in his diocese who are involved in the conservative Anglican Network in Canada and “working to the establishment of a parallel jurisdiction to the Anglican Church of Canada” would “do the honourable thing and resign their positions, relinquishing their licences to exercise ordained ministry in this church.” No clergy have done so and no Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador parishes are listed as members on the network’s Web site.
Clergy in the diocese have annually renewed their vows, said Bishop Pitman in an interview after he sent the letter. “In view of some of the tensions in the church and in the (worldwide Anglican) Communion, we can reconnect to some of the promises we’ve already made and get on with the mission of the church,” he said.
Licences issued by any of Bishop Pitman’s predecessors would have remained valid, but Bishop Pitman said that “in view of the times, I would like all clergy to have my name on the licence.”
In late November, the network, which says it represents Canadian Anglicans committed to “biblically-faithful, historically-authentic Anglicanism,” said the Anglican province of the Southern Cone would receive any Canadian parish that is disaffected with its diocese or national church. In his letter, Bishop Pitman reiterated church policy that “no one from another diocese or another province is to be asked to exercise any ministry in any of our parishes except by the direct invitation of the diocesan bishop.”