(From the Fall 2003 Issue of the Anglican Free Press,
Volume 20, Number 3)
By the Rev'd Gavin Dunbar
Meanwhile back in Canada....
The plight of Canadians, especially those in New Westminster, was not forgotten at Dallas or at Lambeth Palace. A Canadian delegation to Dallas was welcomed with tumultuous applause, and although the speeches often addressed the Episcopal Church of the USA alone, it was made clear that the plight of Canadians was not to be ignored or forgotten. Later in November, the AAC leadership is to meet with the Essentials Coalition bishops of the Canadian church in Toronto, and cross-border interventions are explicitly under consideration.
There is no question they will be needed. In Vancouver, Bishop Ingham has stepped up the pressure—changing the locks and firing the Vestry at St. Martin's, North Vancouver, the non-Evangelical, prayer book parish in ACiNW ("Anglican Communion in New Westminster", the coalition of parishes that have declared themselves out of communion with the Bishop and Synod of New Westminster). Ingham did this at the cost of enraging the congregation, and stiffening their resistance. Meanwhile, the ACiNW has grown from eight parishes to eleven, with others expected to join them.
Provincially, the Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon, Archbishop David Crawley (former advisor and chaplain for the Vancouver chapter of Integrity, the gay lobby group) has instituted discipline proceedings against Terry Buckle, the bishop of Yukon, for extending episcopal ministry to the ACiNW parishes. Ironically, in his haste to persecute Bishop Buckle for violating church order and canons, Archbishop Crawley forgot to follow the canonical procedure for discipline, which provides for such basic rights as a written charge, a fair and impartial trial, and the calling of witnesses. Archbishop Crawley's initial letter of October 1st had found bishop Buckle guilty and prescribed punishment before any of these canons were carried out.
Nationally, the five metropolitans of the Canadian church—Crawley, the Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, plus the Archbishops of Toronto, Montreal, and Athabasca (the Metropolitans of the ecclesiastical provinces of Ontario, Canada, and Rupert's Land)—issued a letter on October 9th, the last day of the Dallas meeting, full of bluster, accusation, and special pleading, and designed to crush any dissent in Canada to the adoption of the gay agenda. Transparently in favour of the gay agenda—despite the fact that the General Synod has not authorized any change in the Church's practice—the letter harshly criticizes cross-border intervention to aid dissenters without any rebuke whatsoeverfor Bishop Ingham: "the intervention[s] ..contrary to the order of the church, have not contributed to our common faithfulness". For sheer effrontery it is hard to exceed that claim—invoking Order against Faith, while pretending to "faithfulness". It also complains bitterly about the threat of impaired or broken communion. It goes on at considerable length and none of its tired old arguments are worth rehearsing.
It is unlikely that the letter will command much assent. Already Bishop Donald Harvey of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has published an open letter to the Metropolitans, criticizing them for "terribly one-sided" leadership in the New Westminster controversies. Bishop Harvey's words are worth quoting in extenso:
"I find it difficult to believe that you would castigate Bishop Terry Buckle in such a severe manner while at the same time issue no reprimand to Bishop Michael Ingham for his actions which have brought this whole matter to a head. Indeed, I have yet to hear any pronouncement from the House of Bishops or the Metropolitans over the manner in which the Guidelines [on human sexuality adopted by the House of Bishops] under which we agreed to operate were so callously ignored.
"Bishop Buckle is being disciplined for taking liberty with ecclesiastical order while Bishop Ingham seems to be supported (by silence, if nothing else) for ignoring the collegiality of the House of Bishops and the traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion, reinforced as recently as the last Lambeth Conference.
"It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that I am unable to accept the admonition you have given regarding Bishop Buckle. I will continue to support and encourage him in his mission to provide pastoral care for persons who insist on interpreting Scripture in a manner that is in keeping with our historic faith and is consistent with the belief of at least 80% of the Anglican Communion throughout the world."
Bishop Harvey is unlikely to find himself alone in his rebuke: at least seven other bishops are likely to join him, and the next meeting of the House of Bishops may well be bloody. The more insistent—and brutal—the Metropolitans are in suppressing dissent, the more willing the dissenting bishops, clergy and people will be to criticize them openly, to claim the right to refuse their admonitions, and to seek alternative episcopal oversight under the Lambeth Palace provisions.
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