Bishop Andrews chair of the Task Force on the Primacy gave a brief history. He reminded the House of Bishops that when it had established the task force it asked that it be made up of representatives from each of the four Ecclesiastical provinces. Members of the task force are: Bishop Andrews (Rupert's Land), Bishop Anderson (BC & Yukon), Bishop Bruce (Ontario), and Bishop Miller (Canada).
Bishop Andrews reported that each of the Anglican Church of Canada's dioceses were contacted as were some of the provinces in the Anglican Communion for their comments and input to a questionnaire about the primacy. He said that four Anglican Communion provinces had responded, and that each of them had a Primate with diocesan authority.
The task force then invited Bishop Baycroft, formerly Bishop of the Diocese of Ottawa and also Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome to write a paper on the role of the Primacy. Bishop Andrews invited Bishop Baycroft to speak.
Bishop Baycroft presented his report. He began by stating that the focus of his paper was the theology of communion. Baycroft noted that keeping the dimension of communion in mind was immensely important in the discussion. He said that the call or centre is that 'the bishop is a ministry of memory. The bishop exercises the ministry of memory. Keep it in mind at all times because it's part of what we experience in pastoral ministry". The Primate exercises ministry of memory and a ministry of synodality (walking together in Christ). Primate also serves the holiness of the communion. Should the primate also exercise a ministry of leadership in a diocese ? The model in North America (of the primate not having a dioceses) is an anomaly ? Since it's an anomaly is it limiting ?
Bishop Baycroft suggested what was being brought before the House of Bishops was a modest proposal. He also said that an alternative decision could be possible to enter into a transitional stage -- "you can in fact have the primatial see move around depending on which bishop is elected". Bishop Baycroft stated that he felt that the primate in future will need more support not less."
"Authority is a gift from God". Bishop Baycroft said, "concentrate on the word 'author'." Jurisdiction is simply being entrusted with or given the power in order to exercise the ministry. Bishop Baycroft said he didn't think the primate needed any more jurisdiction than he currently has. He added that if there is a need to say something re jurisdiction it should be clearly "spelled out".
The bishops divided into groups to discuss different questions.
- What is the role of the Primate ?
- What changes of emphasis in, subtraction from, or additions to the role need to be made ?
- Should the Primate continue to exercise ministry as the Bishop of a Diocese ?
- Should the House recommend a resolution to General Synod placing in abeyance Canon iii 3b requiring the Primate elect to resign his or her diocese ?
- What needs to be clarified about the authority of the Primate ?
- What needs to be clarified about jurisdiction ?
The groups reported back in plenary. Bishop Baycroft said that the bishop appeared to be ready to address the proposed motions.
That this House of Bishops request General Synod 2007 to suspend clause 3b of Canon III on the Primacy until General Synod 2010. LOST HB Res. 01-04-07
(Vote: 19 support / 20 against)
[Text of Canon III b:
As soon as practicable following election, but in any case not more than ninety days after the date of election, the Primate shall resign the responsibilities of the episcopal or metropolitical offices held at the time of election to the Primacy.]
That this House of Bishops request General Synod 2007 to establish a Task Force composed of members of the Orders of Bishops, Clergy and Laity to undertake a detailed and comprehensive study of the nature, role, duties and authority of the Primate including, if necessary, suggested changes to Canon III for consideration by General Synod 2010. CARRIED HB Res. 02-04-07
Archbishop Hutchison said that he was pleased that the bishops had decided to allow time for studying an issue which would have important implications. He also said that as Primate, he had enjoyed not having jurisdiction with respect to legal matters in a diocese, except for those affecting the national office. He informed the bishops that if the Primate maintained diocesan jurisdiction then the Primate would also be in canonical obedience to one of the metropolitans.
That this House move into an in camera session including the Primate's Principal Secretary, the Director of Communication and Information Resources, and the Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry. CARRIED HB Res. 03-04-07
That the House of Bishops' Pastoral Statement be communicated to General Synod in accordance with section 25 c) of the General Synod Handbook and that we request the General Synod Planning and Agenda Committee to allocate some agenda time for us to discuss the statement. CARRIED HB Res. 05-04-07
May 1, 2007 -- At its meeting last month, the House of Bishops considered a draft pastoral statement on same-sex blessings that could be sent to all delegates to General Synod as part of the Convening Circular.
The bishops did not have the time to complete their work on this statement, but a revised draft was sent to them for a vote by email shortly after the conclusion of the meeting. With the email vote now completed, the following pastoral statement will be sent to delegates of General Synod.
Statement from the House of Bishops to the Members of General Synod
Pursuant to section 25 a) of the Constitution of the General Synod the Primate gives notice that the House of Bishops desires to submit to the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod 2007 the following statement which is concurred in by the House of Bishops:
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting from April 16-20, 2007, once again discussed the question of the blessing of same-sex unions. Once again a number of diverse opinions were expressed. Again questions were raised about theology, scripture, discipline, and our church's constitution. However we did find a common strong concern for the pastoral care of all members of our church. While not all bishops can conceive of condoning or blessing same-sex unions, we believe it is not only appropriate but a Gospel imperative to pray with the whole people of God, no matter their circumstance. In so doing we convey the long-standing Gospel teaching that God in Christ loves each person and indeed loves him/her so much that Christ is calling each person to change and grow more fully into God's image and likeness. To refuse to pray with any person or people is to suggest God is not with them. All of us fall short of the glory of God but all are loved by God in Christ Jesus. We believe that in offering the sacraments we invite God's transformative action in people's lives.
- We certainly hope no child is denied baptism solely on the basis of the sexual orientation, or the marital status, of the parents. It is inconsistent and unacceptable to deny baptism to children as a way of imposing discipline on the sexual behaviour of the parents.
- We hope no baptized Christian will be denied communion or confirmation because of being in a committed homosexual relationship or because of their marital status.
We are committed, as bishops in Canada, to develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church. We offer the following examples of possible pastoral responses:
- When a civilly married gay or lesbian couple seeks our church's reception of their civil marriage and asks their parish's recognition, it may be possible, with their bishop's knowledge and permission, to celebrate a Eucharist with the couple, including appropriate intercessory prayers, but not including a nuptial blessing.
- When a gay or lesbian married or committed couple seeks to hold a reception or celebration in a church for their life in Christ, again intercessory prayers for their mutual fidelity, the deepening of their discipleship and for their baptismal ministry may be offered, not including the exchange of vows and/or a nuptial blessing.
To the gay and lesbian licensed clergy of our church, we again affirm your ministry as deeply valued and appreciated, and we acknowledge the pain and conflict that many of you live with daily in your ministry in Christ.
To those who experience these pastoral statements and possible pastoral provisions as inadequate or insufficient, we recognize that they are less than the blessing of same-sex unions or marriage. However it is the discernment of the majority of the House of Bishops that as of today the doctrine and discipline of our church does not clearly permit further action, although we acknowledge that General Synod 2007 will vote on several resolutions on the blessing of same-sex unions.
To those who fear that these pastoral provisions have gone too far, we assert that this discipline is entirely consistent with the doctrine of the Church and with our membership in the Anglican Communion, and fits within the pastoral guidelines of the Windsor Report (paragraph 143). We call upon every member of the Anglican Church of Canada to continue in their faithful discipleship and the work of theological and scriptural reflection and dialogue. We are each called to participate in God's mission in the world and we believe we will do this by the grace of the Risen Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Looking ahead, we ask the Primate and General Synod for a report on:
- 1. The theological question whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a faithful, Spirit-led development of Christian doctrine (St. Michael Report)
- 2. The implications of the blessing of same-sex unions and /or marriage for our church and the Communion (The Windsor Report)
- 3. Scripture's witness to the integrity of every human person and the question of the sanctity of human relationships.
We ask that this report be available in advance of General Synod 2010.
We commit to taking this ongoing conversation to the Lambeth Conference 2008.
The Right Reverend Donald Phillips, Secretary to the House of Bishops
On behalf of Bishop Bruce, Bishop Bedford-Jones informed the House of Bishops that the youth of the Diocese of Ontario had a petition about global warming and climate change for the Prime Minister. He asked the bishops to consider writing to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper requesting that he "get on with the Kyoto Accord".
Archbishop Hutchison commented that the bishops had advocated individually and that he had also done so on behalf of the church. Archbishop Lawrence added that there was a General Synod task group working on it and that prolocutor of the Provincial Synod of Ontario had personally carried the letter to the government office.
That the House of Bishops send a letter to the Prime Minister directing the government to implement the Kyoto Accord. CARRIED HB Res. 06-04-07