Letters to the editor

Published December 1, 2007

The Anglican Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Preference is given to letters under 200 words. All letters are subject to editing for length, grammar and clarity. Please include a mailing address with all letters.

Women face internal barriers to leadership roles

Dear editor,

Your September editorial (Where are the next examples of women in leadership?) reveals interesting similarities with progress (or lack of it) by women in science. Many doors, barely ajar 40 years ago, have now opened much wider to female science students and graduates of all ages. We are now seeing an increasing proportion of high-calibre female doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers. Nevertheless, those talented young people still have few senior role models to inspire them.

Many women in science are fearful of reaching the “glass ceiling.” It has also been shown that a woman will hesitate seriously about applying for a position in science if she cannot fulfil as many as seven or eight out of 10 listed desiderata for the post, whereas a man will send in an application even though he may not fulfil as many as half. However, a woman may fear that her performance will be scrutinized extra hard in order to justify her appointment as “a woman,” so the glass ceiling may in fact be as much an internalized feature as a real but invisible barrier.

Female scientists often suppose that a career in the arts or humanities would be less of a struggle, but your reference to the “(stained) glass ceiling” reveals quite the opposite. As in science, so too in the Anglican Church of Canada the numbers of women at the primary levels are not yet reflected at the higher echelons.

It is always tough for the pioneer, because the new level attained becomes personalized. But Bishop Victoria Matthews has blazed the trail to the pinnacle, and a woman may now contemplate becoming “a bishop” rather than “a female bishop,” not acting as a rare breed but fulfilling her calling as herself. The statistics of women in church appointments will alter, but only slowly, as the present cohort of female priests becomes more senior. It is also up to those women who sense the calling to stand forward, as well as for nominating committees to accept and encourage merit wherever it appears.

Dr. Elizabeth Griffin

Irrelevant focus

Dear editor,

Re: Primate urges new focus for Canadian church (November Anglican Journal). I think that the new focus urged by the primate says why the Anglican church is increasingly irrelevant to Canadians. There is a brass plaque on the lectern of St. James’ cathedral in Toronto. It has a simple inscription: “Sir, we would see Jesus,” (John 12: 21). I would propose that this be the new focus for the Anglican church. We habitually ignore our vocation to point to things eternal in favour of worrying about the purely temporal. The purely temporal is the responsibility of Christians individually, but not of the Christian church.

Barry Graham

Let process unfold

Dear editor,

Re: When will church learn lessons about abuse scandals? (October editorial). You portrayed the diocese of Ontario as being in charge of, or at least having some sort of mandate to run, Grenville Christian College. Also, you suggest that the lessons from the handling of the residential schools issue should be applied here. Further, you criticize the handling of the issue by the bishop of Ontario and his lack of pastoral approach. Yet no mandate and no formal link between the diocese and the college exists; no government mandate exists; those accused have not been found guilty and the bishop has offered to meet with anyone desiring to discuss their experiences with him. Please allow the process, as laid down in canon law, to be followed.

Rev. Alan Bennett
Napanee, Ont. 

Common cup

Dear editor,

We Anglicans have been sharing the common cup when we take communion for many years now. At the communion rail I am kneeling beside many people who have various health issues. Many people with really bad colds decide to dip the wafer in the cup; while I believe this is no longer encouraged, people still do this practice. I strongly believe it is time for the Anglican church to move on and have individual cups like many other churches. We could still kneel at the communion rail, without the constant worry of getting sick.

Maureen Bithell
Orillia, Ont.

Glass houses

Dear editor,

Re: More dissident bishops for U.S. (October Journal). Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies said at the ceremony at which three more schismatic bishops were consecrated to minister to dissidents in the United States, “The gospel … must take precedence over culture. Homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God in Holy Scripture.”

How long is the Anglican Communion to be held hostage to this kind of hypocrisy and moralism? They claim that the church in North America has been seduced by the decadent culture of the West. The implication is that they represent a pure and scriptural tradition untainted by cultural influences.

How is it, then, that the local cultural tradition of polygamy, tribal marriages, and (male) sexual promiscuity is winked at in large parts of the sub-Saharan church, including in the highest ranks of the clergy?

The West has canonically chosen a gay bishop, and in some places has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions. The biblical conservatives demand that we repent and promise to amend our ways. Do we not, then, have the right to demand the same from them – beginning with a public acknowledgment by them of their sins? When they charge us with not responding adequately to Lambeth ’98 and the Windsor Report, have we not the right to ask how come “they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them” (Church Times, Oct. 5)? The quotation is from the joint standing committee of the primates and of the Anglican Consultative Council; the reference is to things like Archbishop Peter Akinola’s support for draconian anti-homosexual legislation in Nigeria, despite Lambeth’s call for civil rights, dignity and dialogue.

Certainly the Age of Hypocrisy has dawned, at least over the horizon of world-wide Anglicanism, and our failure to name it is costing us dearly. Jesus was not afraid to denounce hypocrisy – why are we? Our failure to do so has probably already lost us our unity; must we lose our integrity as well?

Archbishop Gomez’s claim that “The gospel must take precedence over culture,” is a two-edged sword which cuts through cant and moralism in Africa as much as in the West. As Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury once said, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones – and we all live in glass houses.”

Archdeacon Peter Hannen

True dissidents

Dear editor,

Re: More dissident bishops for U.S. It has become quite an accepted “truth” that the Anglican church members who wish to remain in communion with the church in the form that has existed for hundreds of years are now considered and referred to as “dissidents.”

To apply this label to those members is a sly, deceitful manner of trying to switch the truth. In my Webster’s dictionary, dissident is defined as, “One who disputes the doctrine or authority of an established church.” The truth is, those now in majority are the true dissidents.

Much movement was created in the church in Canada by Bishop Michael Ingham and others to force the change in Bible teaching regarding the homosexual issue. That change in thinking has now produced a church in schism.

Let us get our label straight and honest. Those who produced this schism are the dissidents. Those who wish to hold on to “The faith of our fathers” must not bear that stigma.

F.C. Potter
Rosetown, Sask.


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