Sad that tolerance should stand above God’s word

Published May 1, 2005

Dear editors,

Re: Canterbury snubs North Americans (April issue).

I’m Canadian and I don’t feel the least bit “snubbed” by Archbishop Williams’ decision. What right did the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, have to say, “… at the moment he (Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams) does not want to be associated with the Canadians.” This is an untruth.

I understand Archbishop Williams’ reasoning. Despite what people might think, the Anglican Communion (and, more importantly, God) still cares for you, no matter what country you live in.

I find it very sad that the leadership and (it would appear) the majority of the priesthood of the Anglican Church of Canada believe that political correctness and tolerance in society should stand above the Word of God.

The time is drawing near for every priest and every parishioner to decide to be either right with God or right with the world. We can’t be both. I thank God every day when I remind myself that He is in control.

Phillip Rutledge

Belle River, Ont.

180-degree turn

Dear editor,

Re: Canterbury snubs North American churches (April issue). I have to agree with Archbishop Hutchison that the refusal of the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a joint Canadian and U.S. meeting of bishops is a snub in light of the recent Northern Ireland meeting.

As a gay man, I welcomed the appointment of Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury given his liberal tendencies and his own stance on the ordination of gay priests. Now it appears that a 180-degree turn has taken place andwe now have a weak link as head of the Anglican Communion.

It is time for the Anglican church to grow up and get over the issue of homosexuality in the church and if we have to call same-sex marriage something else, then let’s do it and bring us all back into the Communion of the Anglican church.

I also think that Bishop Bruce Howe of Huron, the host diocese for the bishops’ meeting, should have been far more outspoken about the absence of Archbishop Williams. Maybe he and his counterpart in Detroit should have conveyed their disappointment to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Gordon Youngman

Nanaimo, B.C.


Dear editor,

Because civilization and goodness require nourishment and inspiration, particularly by governments, we need to put on a pedestal those who sacrifice for the good of society. Especially in a self-indulgent age such as ours, parents in particular need to perceive that their commitment to the next generation is valued. The term “marriage” is one small indicator of that esteem, a symbol representing the conviction that a union open to the possibility of new life with all its inherent responsibility and sacrifice is deserving of special status. Those heterosexual couples who can’t have children or who marry later in life do not destroy the symbolism. Exalting their union still illustrates the fact that we as a society cherish the potentiality of new life – the idea itself.

Reserving “marriage” for committed heterosexual relationships is not discriminatory. It is a pedestal. No country should feel guilty in distinctly honouring a relationship with such awesome significance.

Robert Burns

Okotoks, Alta.

On the radar screen

Dear editor,

I am mystified as to why the issue of same-sex marriage is “not on the radar screen” of the hierarchy of our church (Anglican church stays out of marriage debate, March issue). The whole country, including many Anglicans in the pews, are talking about it. Is the church’s radar system faulty?

If we truly believe in the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships, as resolved by the church’s General Synod last June, then surely we must honour them with church blessings, and work towards same-sex marriages.

Jesus Christ treated all persons with dignity and He was impatient with the religious leaders of his day, who put the letter of the law ahead of love for human beings. I believe He calls us Christians to follow his example. Let’s get same-sex marriage on the radar screen.

Shirley Geigen-Miller

London, Ont.

Culture changes

Dear editor,

Derek Kerr, in his March letter (Can’t cherry pick)says “we can’t just cherry pick the various parts of Scripture we are willing to accept and discard the rest.” I wonder if Mr. Kerr refrains from eating pork and shellfish, does not eat meat and have dairy products in the same meal, does not wear mixed fabrics (no polyester and cotton), keeps his wife (if he has one) silent and at the back of the church, feels free to beat to death his children (if he has any) if they are disobedient, is kind to his slaves (if he has any) and stones persons of a religious conviction other than his own if he thinks God disagrees with them.

Scriptures arose out of culture, and culture changes. Regarding the treatment of our fellow human beings, culture is sometimes better than religion, which tends, sometimes, to be judgmental and exclusionary.

Sheila Welbergen



Dear editor,

A few years ago our women priests were not welcome in England. Now we may not be welcome at the Anglican Consultative Council.

Discord and strife is nothing new to Christianity. Right at the beginning there were discussions about circumcision and whether to eat pork. Then for centuries the fight about the definition of the nature of Christ went on. Later came the holy wars, inquisition, reformation and more bloodshed. Now we have many denominations, each with their own traditions and agendas.

The miracle is that the message of Jesus survived, having an impact on the ethical thinking of a great part of the world. And we do call each other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lisbeth Mousseau


Discussion on authority

Dear editor,

The recent meeting of Anglican primates and their request that the Canadian and American churches withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council has shown the lack of any real authority within the Anglican church worldwide. Autonomy of individual provinces just simply does not work when an individual province can go completely contrary to decisions made at the Lambeth Conference. Archbishop Andrew Hutchison and Bishop Frank Griswold seem to be bent on going it alone and taking us with them down this slippery slope into obscurity, separation and divorce.

There needs to be at the next Lambeth Conference a discussion on authority within the Anglican Communion and I would ask that the office of Archbishop of Canterbury be given additional authority to legislate and counsel decisions of faith and morals within the church.

The confusion, hurt and pain that exists in the Canadian and U.S. church now is proof that the present model does not work and needs to be replaced with a more practical and efficient model that allows for the top bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion to actually be the Head Man.

Jerry Pearce

Thunder Bay, Ont.

Transparent suffering

Dear editor,

The world was recently invited to open its heart to the final suffering of one of the most influential leaders of the Roman Catholic church, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. The death-denying culture of Western civilization was asked to collectively hold vigil as an ailing octogenarian, suffering from sepsis and the cumulative effects of Parkinson’s disease, slowly let go of life.

This vigil asked Western society to participate in the final hours of human sickness – his transparent suffering. It is something that hospital caregivers experience far too often and from which families sometimes cower. The draining away of life as age and the disease takes its final toll.

Our journey with an ailing pope was sometimes embarrassing, often tragic, and yet equally transparent in its invitation for others to watch with compassion and understanding.

The Pope once said, “The worst prison is a closed heart.” John Paul II’s final gift to this world was an invitation to “open our hearts” to suffering in all its nuances and varying needs.

Chaplain Donald Shields

Co-ordinator ofSpiritual and Religious Care

Markham Stouffville Hospital

Markham, Ont.

Gift of the creator

Dear editor,

As one Christian leader I would like to take on the challenge of the disconnect as described by William Hockin (Leaders must challenge disconnect between life and liturgy, March issue). He describes the role of the church and specifically the Anglican church in the role of helping its adherents to understand the mystery of their own lives as a part of the great mystery of life. He says that our failure is the failure to live distinctively in a Christ-like manner that is recognizable by the wider culture. This raises the question what does it mean to “pray unceasingly” and to “be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect”

Five pages further on in the same paper is an article entitled Suzuki rallies the faithful. Could it be that here is the meaning and purpose the world craves? Sacred balance integrates faith, spirituality and ecology. People have been created from the four sacred elements – earth, air, fire and water – which we in the West have been polluting, abusing and destroying at an exponential rate for centuries. As long as we continue to abuse and destroy that from which we have been made how can we also value our part of the mystery that is the ongoing evolution of the universe?

Anglicans are a small group in a huge culture. It is impossible to live as though we do not need to be a part of that culture.

The Anglicans I know are generous and caring people with both their talents and their time, but most do not want to wear a badge on their heads. Our troubles are the troubles of Western culture and it will take repentance on the scale of Nineveh to make the shift. It is not just that the environment is a gift of the creator for which we are to be thankful; we are a part of that gift and have a particular role. We need to be faithful to our giftedness. This demands we understand our relationship within the earth community and celebrate that in our liturgies. Then we will not need to explain them and the meaning will be obvious, diverse and immediately relevant.

Rev. Catherine Miller

Markdale, Ont.

Jesus dropped

Dear editor,

I am disappointed that acknowledgment of Jesus can be dropped out so easily. I noticed this first at the World Day of Prayer. Afterwards, I found out that both our Book of Alternative Services (BAS) and the World Day of Prayer end intercessory prayers through the use of (or similar) “Gathering our prayers into one let us pray the Lord’s Prayer as our Saviour taught us.”

New Christians and visitors might assume that it is through their prayers and praying the Lord’s Prayer that God will receive their prayers. There is no witness of our belief that it is through faith in Jesus who is our intercessor that our prayers are presented to God.

How, and why, did the acknowledgment of Jesus get dropped?

Audrey Lee

Orillia, Ont.

The real question

Dear editor,

I often hear people speak of the decline in church attendance. Many ask, “Why won’t people come to church? “

I believe that each of us must ask ourselves the following question: “If our own grown children won’t come to church, then why should we expect others in the community to enter the church doors?”

Karen Kerr

Lisle, Ont.

Not the first lay editor

Dear editor,

It is not correct to say(Marking the Journal’s 130 years, April) that there was no lay editor of the Canadian Churchman from 1890 to 1968. Clara McIntyre was editor from 1926 to 1944. It is just that her identity wasn’t made public, because she was a woman. See the Canadian Churchman, June 1975, page 29.

Alan L. Hayes


Admit we are prejudiced

Dear editor,

Today there is so much talk about sexuality, especially homosexuality.

We Anglicans are so academic. We think out a course of action. If it seems right, we go ahead and implement it. We forget that sexuality is far more than thinking. It goes to the depths of who we are as humans.

We talk about homophobia, but what about gynophobia and androphobia? We need to deal with all three. A phobia is an irrational fear buried in the unconscious. One cannot deal with a phobia just by telling oneself, or someone else, not to be that way. The first step in dealing with prejudices is to admit that we are prejudiced.

Let us start by listening to one another across the divide between us. Let us hear the convictions, fears, and sense of identity issues of those with whom we disagree. Let us be aware of our own phobias, and the extent to which we project them onto others.

John Serjeantson

South Bolton, Que.

Hope for healing

Dear editor,

We were fascinated by the juxtaposition of two letters in the April issue (Compassion: key to being Canadian, Anglican, and Changed man). Nothing could more dramatically demonstrate the real need in the Anglican church (or any church) toprovide the compassion that we hear so much about by offering those who struggle with same-sex attraction an opportunity for a way out. This begins with an understanding of the origins of same-sex attraction during formative years as clearly set out in many scholarly works, and the possibilty of change through intensive prayer ministry for inner healing.

We commend to your readers the writings of Dr. Francis MacNutt (Homosexuality, Can It Be Healed?), Dr. Jeffery Satinover (Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth) and others who document the origins and potential for change of same-sex attraction. Asdirectors of The School of Healing Prayer in Toronto developed by Dr. MacNutt, we can attest, on the basis of the large numbers who have attended the school, to a profoundhunger for personal inner healing and the desire by lay and clergy alike to be equipped for this essential ministry. As your correspondent Alan MacGowan points out, there is real hope in Jesus.

Ted and Carol Ward


History lesson

Dear editor,

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, both divorcees, were unable to marry in a Church of England ceremony. Robert Barr, writing for the Associated Press writes, “The Church of England has qualms about remarriage for divorcees.” So, if this church opposes remarriage for divorcees, then why did they agree to a church blessing after the civil ceremony? This inconsistency is not lost on anybody.

Neither the Church of England nor the media seem to remember the history of the church’s origins. The Church of England broke from the Roman Catholic church over the sole issue of King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce and remarry. Eventually, he had six wives in succession. He was not much of a husband or family man. However, he did establish the right to divorce and remarry for royals such as himself.

Why does the Church of England not study its own history?

Robin Kingsley



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