Why single out African bishops who intervened?

By on February 1, 2005

Dear editor,

I write to correct a mistaken impression left by an article concerning the Windsor Report (Africans will not apologize for interfering December 2004). The story stated, “no group was asked to apologize for its actions, but rather, only the consequences.”

In fact, the only group that was asked to express regret for the consequences of its actions was the bishops who intervened on behalf of dissenters in New Westminster and in the United States. The request made to New Westminster bishop Michael Ingham was quite different, namely “to express regret … that the bonds of affection were breached” by the unilateral manner in which his diocese proceeded.

This apology has not yet been forthcoming. Bishop Ingham’s statement of Oct. 18 expressed regret only for the consequences of New Westminster’s decision, and linked those consequences to the attitudes of others, whose lack of understanding led them to be “dismayed” by his diocese’s action. This falls far short of regretting the way the decision was made.

Two days later the bishop issued a letter to his diocese which acknowledges the real call of the Windsor Report, to express regret for the breach in the bonds of affection, and then simply states, “I have done so.” Interested readers may well ask, when and to whom?

We are left with the sad situation in which no party has been willing to express regret in the way requested by the report’s authors. The African bishops’ conference simply responded in kind – why is it, then, that your headline singles them out?

Rev. Iain Luke

Winnipeg


Hungry for guidance

Dear editor,

Re: Primate extends a hand to church’s youth, (December). The primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, clearly has his priorities in order in recognizing the importance of reaching out to the young members of the church. Many teenagers are hungry for spiritual guidance and are trying to find answers to the frightening and confusing world they live in. Our church has failed to give them this guidance, and those who do not turn from religion altogether are likely to find their answers in the religious right.

The December letter to the editor from 15-year-old Nathan Douglas (entitled The flock) illustrates this. The passion and idealism of this boy has been turned to fundamentalism. Our church has not taught him mercy and humility. Instead, he has learned the lessons of the religious right: arrogance, exclusion, and judgmentalism.

If we continue to ignore and alienate our youth, there is no doubt that the church will soon disappear.

Russ Braley

London, Ont.


Youth are the present

Dear editor,

People say that the youth are the future of the church, and I wonder how that can be. After all, I have been a member of a church advisory board for five years, of the diocesan executive committee for three and a half years and a churchwarden for a year and a half.

At the national church level we have four very talented, qualified people keeping watch on the Council of General Synod and there are countless other youth involved in diocesan synods, advisory boards, diocesan and provincial councils.

The work of the many committed youth in the government of the church is not tokenism.The youth are not just the future of the church, we are the present too.

Charles Wilson

Sudbury, Ont.


Provisions for liberals

Dear editor,

Upon reading of the House of Bishops meeting and their discussion about the use of alternative episcopal oversight (Bishops agree on ‘shared’ ministry, December), I found myself wondering what provisions are contemplated for liberal parishes and clergy in conservative dioceses. The assumption seems to be that the conservative position is normative and therefore conservative parishes are due some consideration in episcopal ministry. A priest in a diocese with a conservative bishop, who has parishioners in a committed, exclusive relationship that he/she wanted to recognize in some liturgical manner, is currently unable to perform such a service. Is it possibile that such priests could place themselves under the alternative episcopal oversight of a liberal bishop?

I am not convinced that this is a good idea as the church could disintegrate into non-geographic dioceses divvied up by issues: Book of Alternative Services/Book of Common Prayer, new/old hymn books, matrimonial commission/no matrimonial commission, but the question needs to be asked as a logical extension of the proposed system. It is also a real issue in the lives of a number of clergy and parishioners in dioceses other than New Westminster.

Rev. Keith Denman

Edmonton


Marriage the issue

Dear editor,

Events often move faster than most can assimilate. Recent events have moved the debate about same-sex blessings to same-sex marriage. The proposed practice of blessing civil marriages places us in exactly the same theological argument as was raised at the time of the debate over the remarriage of divorced persons. Whether we like it or not in 2007 the marriage of same-sex persons will be the issue.

Canon Andrew E. Gates

Esquimalt, B.C.


Just and true

Dear editor,

Re: Church carefully weighs divestment issue (January). The primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, states that Anglicans must attempt to “have a balance” when dealing with the issue of Israel-Arab conflict. He dismisses the issue of justice to the oppressed and the dispossessed, and consequently and indirectly lends support to the powerful occupiers of Palestinian land who have caused a kind of a “tsunami” there with huge devastation, immense suffering and death.

The issue of justice is central to the Gospel and is reflected in the song of Mary, “… and scattered the proud with all their plans. He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.” Where is the balance in this song? The mighty Roman occupiers and the oppressed people?

The archbishop will serve the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians by lending support to what is just and true.

Rafiq Farah

Archdeacon Emeritus

Toronto


Heartbreaking

Dear editor,

It breaks my heart to work my way through another issue of Anglican Journal.

I read about Rev. Andrew Wesley (Breaking bannock on city streets, December) and am brought to tears to remember how we treated native people as substandard human beings and so effected destruction on their families and way of life.

I read how we continue a long tradition of treating Jews as substandard human beings by siding with the Palestinians in the Middle East struggles, forgetting at our peril the Shoah. I see the poison of those old evils in Canon Naim Ateek’s unjust call for divestment in Israel and his spurious claim that the situation there is like apartheid was in South Africa.

And I read how parishes continue to treat our homosexual brethren, shunning and judging them, and declaring them less than fully functioning members of Christ.

As it destroys itself from within, my Communion is nothing if not consistent on these three issues: target groups are being wrongly wounded. O my precious church, remember your Lord who enjoined you to love and serve one and other in humility and truth as Christ serves and loves each of us, unworthy as we are.

Marianne Bluger Neily

Ottawa


Financial support

Dear editor,

In the December issue, the Palestinian theologian, Canon Naim Ateek, urges “selective divestment from Israel as a strategy to advance the peace process in the Middle East.”

Could we also be advised how financial support can be withdrawn from those who send Palestinian teenagers into open air markets in Israel with explosives strapped to their chests?

Thomas F. Brown

Halifax


One-sided

Dear editor,

In over 40 years of ordained ministry I seldom, if ever, have witnessed such biased, one-sided “journalism” as we have been subjected to in the last four editorials of this paper. However, what really saddens (and annoys) me is that half a million dollars of the budget of “my church” is allocated to provide the editor with a platform for airing these views under the licence of an independent editorial policy. One wonders, “independent of whom?”

Bishop Donald F. Harvey (ret.)

Moderator

Anglican Network in Canada

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