Mississauga , Ont.
Bishop William Hockin, charged by the house of bishops with attempting reconciliation in the diocese of New Westminster , said that after six months, he has concluded there is “very little room for dialogue” in the conflict. However, he also suggested that the Canadian metropolitans, or senior bishops, might agree to appoint retired bishops with full authority to minister to disaffected parishes across diocesan lines. At the bishops’ spring meeting this year, Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster asked Bishop Hockin, newly-retired from the diocese of Fredericton and a theological conservative, to act as “episcopal liaison” to parishes that disagreed with the blessing of same-sex unions. Bishop Hockin’s powers included offering pastoral care and presiding at confirmations but did not include jurisdiction power such as the appointment of clergy. However, Bishop Hockin reported, “24 hours later,” a coalition of conservative parishes called the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW) “unanimously rejected this ministry.” Speaking at the October meeting of the house of bishops, he said he received e-mails urging him to resign in favour of Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon, who had offered full episcopal authority to the parishes. Bishop Buckle announced last month that he had withdrawn his offer of episcopal oversight. A task force of bishops will now examine how best to care for those who disapprove of church decisions One parish – not a member of ACiNW – requested his presence and he has met with ACiNW clergy as well as clergy from parishes that do not agree with same-sex blessings but also do not wish to join ACiNW. “There is a third reality … the existence of conservative parishes that struggle with their desire to remain loyal and feel in a no-man’s land. Some spoke of harassment by representatives of ACiNW, who with missionary zeal appeal to parishes to join them,” he said. The realities of geography also made his position difficult, he noted, since he lives across the country in Fredericton and New Westminster is based in Vancouver , but he is in touch regularly with the moderate parishes by phone and e-mail.