New Westminster suspends cursillo for two years

Published November 1, 2002

The diocese of New Westminster has suspended Cursillo activities for two years after a diocesan controversy over the blessing of same-sex unions spilled over into the activities of the spiritual and evangelical movement

In a letter co-signed by Dean Peter Elliott, commissary to the diocese in the absence of Bishop Michael Ingham, and by Archdeacon Ronald Harrison, the local Cursillo group was asked to suspend its activities and disband its 19-member secretariat.

In an interview, Mr. Harrison said that he and Mr. Elliott were responding to two letters asking for the suspension. Lorraine Bryan, chair of the Canadian Anglican Cursillo secretariat, wrote to Bishop Ingham on Aug. 22.

Another letter arrived from five members of the local secretariat, supporting her request.

In an open letter to the New Westminster secretariat, Mrs. Bryan explained her request:

?The recent split (within the secretariat over last June?s decision to bless same-sex unions) has resulted in words and actions that are harmful to the reputation of Cursillo in general, not just to your local movement. … Recent activities do not … present Cursillo as an example of Christian evangelization or fellowship,? she wrote.

In an interview, Mrs. Bryan said there were other problems with the movement in the diocese. There are 19 people on the New Westminster secretariat or board, where the norm is eight to 10, and there are no by-laws.

But the heart of the problem, she said, is political. ?There were factions fighting. They were having trouble working as a unit,? she said.

The national Cursillo office?s concern, she added, also centred on authority. ?Cursillo only operates under the auspices of the bishop. Our movement is not like a child in a divorce case where you can go back and forth between different sides.?

A group of Cursillo people and some secretariat members met informally twice ? on Aug. 12 and again on Sept. 9.

Peter Turner, who chaired the first meeting, said in an interview that there had not been enough consultation with the larger secretariat before the five, including Cursillo?s spiritual advisor, Rev. Catherine Hall, wrote to Cursillo headquarters in Oakville, Ont. and then to the bishop supporting the suspension. ?We have over 800 people involved with Cursillo in the diocese,? he noted.

Mr. Turner said that problems in Cursillo were not related to the diocesan decision on same-sex blessings but centered on personalities.

In an open letter to members, Mr. Turner proposed that Cursillo carry on without official sanction.

Mr. Turner also wrote that the licenses of several Cursillo priests ?are now in jeopardy and hence their participation in Cursillo is impaired….

?If this reflects our bishop?s ?pastoral plan? then I do not see Cursillo, with evangelism as its primary mission and its whole reason for existing, as ever being compatible under this bishop.?

Archdeacon Ronald Harrison, in the absence of Bishop Ingham who was in Hong Kong attending the Anglican Consultative Council, said no licenses had been revoked.


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