Archbishop Fred Hiltz, in his new role as primate (national archbishop) of the Anglican Church of Canada, paid a courtesy call on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Oct. 16 at Lambeth Palace in London, England, briefing him on a number of current Canadian issues, including the sexuality controversy.
It is customary for new leaders of Anglican provinces to visit the archbishop, the titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, at his home in Lambeth Palace.
“His feeling was that in Canada the process was coherent, judicious and cautious,” said Archbishop Hiltz in an interview. He described for Archbishop Williams the processes leading up to the two General Synod votes last June on same-sex blessings, including the resolutions, the resources produced by the church, the house of bishops’ struggle with the issue and the work of the faith, worship and ministry committee and theological commission.
The Canadian bishops’ pastoral letter of last April, which permits celebration of a gay couple’s relationship through a eucharist or prayers, but forbids a nuptial blessing or marriage, was seen by Archbishop Williams “as a model that he hoped others might consider,” since it contains the theme of pastoral generosity, said Archbishop Hiltz.
“I also told him it was not a one-issue synod. The theme, Draw the Circle Wide – Draw it Wider Still, unfolded in our day with the Lutherans, in our commitment to (finance) the Council of the North, the introduction of the national indigenous bishop, in a renewed emphasis on companion dioceses,” he said.
They also discussed Archbishop Williams’ visit last spring to the Canadian house of bishops. “I said I viewed his ministry to us and to the Episcopal Church as a living sign of his vocation and office as an instrument of communion. He said that in an age of communications through the (Internet) blogosphere, there is nothing like face-to-face meetings,” said Archbishop Hiltz.
During his five-day trip overseas, Archbishop Hiltz also met with Canon Gregory Cameron, deputy general secretary of the Anglican Communion, and Canon Philip Groves, who is leading the communion’s “listening process” concerning human sexuality. He also met with the primate of Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper.