Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Worlds Apart

The Archbishop of Canterbury has published a Pastoral Letter to the Bishops of the Anglican Communion. Its a follow up summary to Lambeth 2008. One paragraph which interests me is this:

"Second, on the controversial issue of the day regarding human sexuality, there was a very widely-held conviction that premature or unilateral local change was risky and divisive, in spite of the diversity of opinion expressed on specific questions. There was no appetite for revising Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998, though there was also a clear commitment to continue theological and pastoral discussion of the questions involved. In addition to a widespread support for moratoria in the areas already mentioned, there was much support for the idea of a 'Pastoral Forum' as a means of addressing present and future tensions, and as a clearing house for proposals concerning the care of groups at odds with dominant views within their Provinces, so as to avoid the confusing situation of violations of provincial boundaries and competing jurisdictions."

This is in line with the line of his final Presidential Address which challenged innovators to justify their innovations.

But a world away, in time zones and in temper, is this announcement from the Diocese of New Westminster:

"The Diocese has taken steps under Canon 15 towards removing clergy who have left the Anglican Church of Canada rather than accepting the decisions of the Diocesan Synod and General Synod.

The Diocese has invoked the provision that returns control of the parishes to the Diocese, an action that was approved by Diocesan Council.

The parishes are St. Matthew’s Abbotsford and St. Matthias and St. Luke, Vancouver. Former diocesan clergy who have continued working in the parishes are Trevor Walters, Michael Stewart, and Don Gardner at St. Matthew’s, and Simon Chin at St. Matthias and St. Luke.

No steps have been taken at present at Good Shepherd, and at St. John’s Shaughnessy, Vancouver, two other parishes where former diocesan clergy remain who have left the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a memorandum to diocesan clergy, Commissary (Acting Bishop) Peter Elliott wrote that implementing this canon is a time consuming process, hence at this time the diocese was only proceeding with two parishes.

George Cadman, chancellor (chief legal officer) of the Diocese, said he hopes that the former clergy will now decide to leave voluntarily and that resort to the courts will be unnecessary, even though the possibility of litigation was raised in letters from the former officials at St. Matthew’s. No communications have been received from St. Matthias and St. Luke since its priest left the Anglican Church of Canada."

I understand that 'legally' the Diocese of New Westminster thinks it is acting righteously: Anglican clergy are bound to obey lawful legislation of the synod and general synod, thus those who disobey may, legally, be moved against. But these clergy (as far as I understand the situation) are protesters against legislation which is contrary to the mind of the Anglican Communion and the guidance of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Why is the Diocese of New Westminster not expending time and energy on a revisitation of its own synodical acts in the light of Lambeth 2008rather than pursuing clergy?

These clergy, incidentally, are bound to be found by an 'international Anglican court' (save that we do not have one) as acting in accordance with Anglican polity and practice as conceived through the ages.

New Westminster and Lambeth Palace are worlds apart. We watch to see if these worlds come closer!

No comments: