Bishops’ statement ill-timed, ill-conceived
I am saddened by the timing and the contents of the house of bishops’ pastoral statement (Bishops prepare for synod aftermath, May Anglican Journal). First, a letter such as this would have been appropriate after the General Synod vote when a pastoral statement for one side or the other would certainly be in order. Released when it was, it seemed to undermine the process proposed by the Council of General Synod, and in effect says “no” to a decision that ought to have been made by the entire synod.
Secondly, I am sad about the condescending tone of the proposals regarding “pastoral care” of same-sex couples and their children. I thought the sacraments were open to all who come with sincerity and faith.
Thirdly, further study of the homosexuality issue is redundant. There are scores of studies dating back 30 years.
Finally, I know the problem lies with the fact that some believe that homosexuality and/or homosexual intimacies are sinful, and that we cannot condone that in the church. We also judged the lifestyle and religion of First Nations peoples as sinful according to “God’s law,” with disastrous consequences. Let’s leave judging of our sinfulness to God and love each other as God loves us.
Rev. Harry Eerkes
Stand up for the faith
This is for the House of Bishops: As Anglicans we cannot claim to be a church of God if we persist in spitting in God’s face. That is exactly what you are doing in your latest statement. You have elected to take the easy route rather than to stand for the vows you made both at your ordination and reinforced at your consecration. It appears you have been taken in by the propaganda of the homosexual community – that is refusing to make a stand for fear of being called a homophobe. Your position is supposed to be “chief shepherds” of the church and you have abandoned that duty.
This issue is not one of liberalism versus conservatives but one of apostasy versus orthodoxy. It grieves me to see that you have decided to stand on the side of apostasy. I pray that bishops having the same view as stated herein will have the courage to stand up for the faith; for those who wish to side with apostasy I pray that God will wake you up.
Frank C. Wirrell
I am disappointed but not surprised by the bishops’ pastoral letter on blessing of same-sex unions. It must get rather painful sitting on the fence for so long. I pray for the death of the Anglican church, so that it may be reborn (read Harry Williams).
The attitudes displayed by the leaders of the church, as graphically illustrated by the firing of my brother, Jim Ferry, by Bishop Terry Finlay in 1991 and the subsequent Bishop’s Court, show more concern for the fictional “unity of the church” than they do leadership, compassion or integrity. I wonder why any gay and lesbian people hang around the sinking ship of the church. I gave up on it years ago.
Hypocrisy seems to be the oil that keeps the wheels of the Anglican church (and others) turning. I have long felt, given the large numbers of gay clergy and parishioners in the Anglican church, that my brother’s real crime, for which he, I, and many others have suffered, was to challenge that hypocrisy.
How did Jesus feel about hypocrisy?
I find the bishops’ letter rather depressing. I am tired of the secrecy which the bishops cloak themselves in at these meetings. It allows a kind of mob mentality to prevail and leaves us with no real ability to call our local bishop to account. I don’t doubt that that is their intention.
What would it take to move this church to a place where no decisions are taken in secret or anonymity? I think that would be a good motion to take to General Synod. That body may not have authority over the bishops, but I would hope that a demand that bishops own up to their positions, by making the results of all votes public, would be hard to ignore. We require it of our secular leaders.
My appetite for supporting these people in pointed hats, in any manner whatsoever, diminishes significantly with each passing year. Frankly, I think their role should be reduced to a pastoral and advisory one. Make all the bishops like the Canadian primate, but in their own diocese: a leader, if they can inspire us on an ongoing basis, but with no real power. End the synodical veto of the diocesan bishop and end votes by order at General Synod. Roll the bishops in with the rest of the clergy.
It came as no surprise to learn that Canada’s Anglican bishops have again rejected same-sex blessings in this country. The shocking news is that they approved the statement in an e-mail vote – no mean feat when you’re living in the 19th century.
Resistance to injustice
Re: Saskatoon priest resigns over same-sex issue (May Journal). Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck gives us an example of resistance to injustice in our Anglican church policy. Many of us with licences to marry may be considering our own course of action. One possibility is that we discuss with our bishop and our parish the option of treating all persons equally; that is, doing for all persons only what is allowable for all persons. In other words, clergy might consider refraining from doing for heterosexual couples anything we are not allowed to do for homosexual or lesbian couples.
Archdeacon Barbara Liotscos
108 Mile Ranch, B.C.
Re: Blessings vote to be decided by resolution (April Anglican Journal). The Council of General Synod (CoGS) resolution that proposes that the blessing of same-sex unions “is consistent with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada,” appears to be calling for an internal audit of principles or doctrines of the Anglican Church of Canada regarding the blessing of same-sex unions. That would be a wise move. However, nothing can be concluded by either the affirmation or the rejection of the resolution so worded, because it compares apples and oranges.
In specifying that the statement of doctrine be compared with “core doctrine,” the resolution avoids any meaningful test of consistency, because there is simply no statement of human sexuality made in the creeds. Were the question of consistency to include theological anthropology, human relationships and sanctification, and holy matrimony (as the St. Michael Report advises), then an affirmation or a rejection would have import.
Perhaps the resolution was really asking whether the blessing of same-sex unions was “not inconsistent” with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada. This sounds likely. However, even the lack of inconsistency between the blessing of same-sex unions and “core doctrine” enables us to conclude nothing concerning the merit or veracity of the blessings. This is the case because even false propositions are not inconsistent with the core doctrine of the church.
A thorough assessment of Christian doctrine is required for a theological consideration of same-sex blessings. It is my belief that we are obligated to proceed theologically, but I could find no way to parse the resolution so that it helps us fulfil this duty. Consistency is an excellent test, but we need to set the bar higher and reflect on the salient doctrines.
Vankleek Hill, Ont.
Listen to world voice
It is disappointing that CoGS has gambled on a divisive, “winner-take-all” approach to the issue of sexuality. Abandoning moderation, CoGS has proposed that we turn our church upside down in order to conform to secular Canadian society. In so doing, it has jeopardized our place in the worldwide Anglican church.
Just as immigrants have enriched Canadian society with new ideas, so we as a Canadian church have benefited from the insights provided by churches in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. We have better understood our own strengths and weaknesses through our participation in an Anglican Communion that transcends national boundaries.
The Windsor Report, reflecting the unanimous verdict of the entire Anglican Communion, suggests that the approach taken by the Canadian and American churches is flawed. Should we not listen to the voice of the worldwide church?
Re: Lambeth invitations exclude American gay bishop (May 22 anglicanjournal.com news story). I am disappointed in the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury not to invite the Bishop of New Hampshire to Lambeth 2008. Archbishop Rowan Williams has bowed to the pressures of one group, and in so doing, has created his own schism between every other bishop and Bishop Gene Robinson. The act of inviting almost 800 bishops but leaving one out is completely antithetical to the Gospel we are working to spread.
Rather than taking special care of the one whose manner of life is challenging to others, Archbishop Williams has not only allowed this sheep to get away but has driven it away from the flock. In a time when our leadership has asked us to listen to gay and lesbian people in our church and to ensure that none are denied the pastoral care of the church, the hypocrisy of Archbishop Williams’ decision is galling.
For advice, I look to Jesus, who invited the marginalized and scandalous to be in his presence and built bonds of affection between himself and them. My hope is that our bishops will see Archbishop Williams’ decision as hypocritical and uncharitable and will decide to boycott a conference whose guest list is discriminatory and offensive to those of us who take seriously the call to listen to, engage, and respect those who have been sidelined by the church.
Voice of sanity
Re: Anglican women pledge solidarity at UN meeting (April Journal). Thank goodness for Jenny Te Paa. After pages of depressing statements by male clergy getting their knickers in a twist, a voice of sanity at last.
Why the debate?
I have been reading with interest, and despair, the many articles and letters regarding the blessing of same-sex unions. I find it hard to believe that there are still individuals who believe that homosexuality is a learned or chosen lifestyle. I was delighted to read that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, posted on YouTube a reflection about the slave trade which urged Christians to remember that “every person is made in the image and likeness of God, is of great worth and of great value.” If we consider ourselves Christians, how can there possibly be any debate over the blessing of same-sex unions?
I have been an Anglican for 80 years. I volunteered in many community organizations over the years, and now volunteer in palliative care and am active in my church. It will pain me to leave the church I love, but unless the Anglican church follows Christ’s teaching to “love one another,” and does so unconditionally, I will be forced to look for a church that practises what it preaches.
Thunder Bay, Ont.
In your editorial Church’s decisions must be mindful of context (April Journal), you ask “who’s driving the bus?” and seem very upset that the Global South primates seem to be taking control and leadership of the Anglican Communion. Considering that our primate had to ask Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori how to vote on the final communique and get his marching orders from the revisionist liberal in the United States maybe the question is who owns the bus. CoGS rigged and stacked the deck for the crucial vote that could expel the Canadian church from the Anglican Communion. At the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council the U.S. and Canada won’t be asked not to attend the meeting, we will be simply told to stay away forever. It is time to have an Anglican pope with all the powers to defrock and expel the heretical bishops in the Canadian and American churches. It is clear that our present primate was never in control of the bus; he never even owned it.
Thunder Bay, Ont.
Re: No gifts, please (April letters). I hasten to present a counter perspective to your writer who was so negative about the “unwanted gift,” Walking through Lent with our Partners. These Lenten calendars were offered at an ecumenical Shrove Tuesday supper and eucharist. A number were taken by Lutheran guests who complimented them as a way of focusing on Lent. For myself, with a foot in both the Lutheran and Anglican camps, this was a good way to observe Lent. I could not help but be reminded of my own relative abundance and I was led through Lent in a much more meaningful way. Not least, I was inspired to make the largest Lenten gift I have ever made which I feel certain will be used to good effect by Anglican Appeal.
When I brought my copy home I had thought of it as a gift; now I treasure it as a memento of Lent 2007 and I commend the authors.
I have fond memories of Bishop Fred Crabb (May obituary). Having left the Royal Navy with ordination in mind, I thought a theology degree might come in useful and enquired at colleges at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and London. Most of them said that I had best do a degree in engineering or indeed geography. Bishop Crabb was acting principal of the London College of Divinity, associated with the University of London; he said that London required Greek for any degree in theology and Hebrew for honours – it would be hard work in view of my background but if I were prepared for that, “we’ll see how you get on in your first year.”
London had an excellent foundation year for degrees in theology, including Greek, Roman history, psychology of religion and ancient philosophy. Bishop Crabb taught history and philosophy; he set a mock exam a few weeks before we were to write the university exams, and awarded me 68 per cent in philosophy. I was devastated and talked to him; having had marks in the high 80s and 90s when I was doing naval subjects, I thought perhaps I had made a terrible mistake in attempting theology. “Good heavens,” he replied, “London never gives more than 70 per cent. That’s a very good mark.” With that encouragement I soldiered on.
Canon Colin Proudman