The diocese of Calgary, in mid-May, was still negotiating the terms of Bishop Barry Hollowell’s departure, according to the bishop, who said he could not add further details while negotiations were underway.
In March Bishop Hollowell announced he would resign his post, effective Aug. 31. In an interview at the house of bishops meeting in Windsor, Ont., he said the diocese was “filled with tensions and dissension,” a point he made in his resignation announcement that said he felt he was personally blamed for the diocese’s difficulties.
An article in The Sower, the diocesan newspaper, noted that Bishop Hollowell announced his resignation at the start of a diocesan executive council meeting, then walked out, startling the participants. “It was time to make the decision public and not to prolong the situation,” he said to the Journal, explaining why he left.
Bishop Hollowell also said he felt he had had little support from staff and that diocesan leaders often supported initiatives, then “drew back.” A former priest in the diocese, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that was often the case on committees and other decision-making bodies. “People give verbal support, then talk behind your back,” the priest said.
In recent months, Bishop Hollowell has made several decisions that caused controversy, but were recommended or supported by the executive council. He ordered the closure of three inner-city churches and removed the cathedral designation from the downtown Church of the Redeemer. All are experiencing financial difficulties.
Bishop Hollowell, who is 57, said he and his wife, Linda Barry-Hollowell, intend to remain in Calgary.
The Sower said the senior bishop of the ecclesiastical (church) province of Rupert’s Land, Archbishop John Clarke, “will be involved in arrangements for an electoral synod for a new bishop of Calgary that will likely take place in 2006.” According to provincial canons, Bishop Hollowell’s resignation must be given in writing but to date, the bishop has only verbally announced he will resign.
In recent years, bishops’ resignations have been rare; most bishops stay in episcopal ministry until retirement age. The last such resignation was that of Gordon Beardy, bishop of Keewatin, the church’s first aboriginal diocesan bishop who resigned in 2001 to serve his First Nations community in northwestern Ontario.