Archbishop Nutter reported that the Primate wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, as requested at the November meeting of the House, and received a response to his letter from Canon S. Van Culin's response were distributed to the Bishops.
According to the formula outlined by Canon Van Culin, as developed at the March 1986 meeting of Primates, the Canadian Church is entitled to send three Suffragan Bishops. No provision is being made for the attendance of the wives of Suffragan Bishops at the Lambeth Conference.
The Metropolitans identified various methods of indicating the Suffragan Bishops who should be invited to attend from the Canadian Church. It was agreed that seniority should be the defining factor, but that no more than one Bishop should attend from the same Diocese. If any Suffragan is unable to go because of illness, or chooses not to go, the next senior Suffragan Bishop should take his place. The Metropolitans agreed that this proposal should be placed before the Bishops for their consideration.
That the three Suffragan Bishops senior by Consecration be those designated to attend the Lambeth Conference in 1988, and that if any of those thus indicated are unable to attend, the next senior Suffragan Bishop shall take his place, with not more than one attending from any diocese. CARRIED
The use of generic language in the Baptismal Service in the Book of Alternative Services was discussed, and there was agreement with the decision of the Doctrine and Worship Committee on the use of generic language.
That this House of Bishops supports the position taken by the Doctrine and Worship Committee regarding the use of generic language in the Baptism Formula in the Book of Alternative Services. CARRIED #3-9-85
N.B. "Generic language" presumably means the formula "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen". Inclusive language is not to be used with respect to the Trinity. Clarification provided by Liturgical Office -- 26 Oct. 1993]
Whereas the General Synod of 1980 requested the House of Bishops to give leadership in implementing an effective program of evangelism throughout our Church;
And Whereas it is evident that a number of Dioceses have already identified evangelism as one of the priorities in their Anglicans in Mission Diocesan Cases;
Therefore be it resolved:
That this House of Bishops calls Dioceses and parishes to consider seriously the implementation of effective programs of evangelism and further requests that General Synod approve in principle the allocation of funds for the appointment of a support staff person at such a time as the House of Bishops and the National Executive Council through consultation deem it appropriate. CARRIED #17-6-83
That this House advise the Administration and Finance Committee that it would welcome negotiated standards and guidelines for chargeable travel and accommodation expenses related to meetings of the House of Bishops. CARRIED
The Primate reported that a communication had been received from Bishop Sjoberg, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada indicating the hope that opportunities would be provided in the future for closer relationships between Anglican and Lutheran bishops.
It was agreed that Bishop Sjoberg should be informed of the dates of the February meeting of this House, and that the suggestion should be made that the Lutheran bishops meet during the same period at the same place. It was agreed that some joint sessions would be beneficial.
That this House concur with the Primate's initiative in regard to the Lutheran Church and the November, 1988, meeting of the House of Bishops. CARRIED
Correction that "P. 9 - second to last line - should read `November 1988' [not 1987] to be found in Resolution 16-2-88 "House of Bishops - Minutes of the Meeting of the House of Bishops of October, 1987 - Amendments" in HB Minutes of February 1988.
Notation that this motion was CARRIED to be found in Resolution 16-2-88 "House of Bishops - Minutes of the Meeting of the House of Bishops of October, 1987 - Amendments" in HB Minutes of February 1988.
Canon Berryman spoke regarding contacts with the members of the press at this meeting of the House, recommending that the sessions be open to the media, except for the two sessions during which confidential matters would be discussed.
That the sessions on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. and the sessions on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. be In Camera. CARRIED #9-11-86
It was agreed that there will not be a statement issued at the conclusion of this meeting of the House.
That the House give approval to this statement. CARRIED #13-2-84
A STATEMENT OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS
On January 19, 1984, the Minister of Justice tabled in the House of Commons a Bill to revise Canada's divorce law. The proposed legislation departs from the provisions of the existing Divorce Act in that it abolishes matrimonial offence as grounds for divorce, and proposes that marriage breakdown should be the sole basis for the legal dissolution of a marriage.
The proposed legislation states that:
"in a petition for divorce, a breakdown of the marriage is established if, and only if (a) the husband and wife assert, in the manner prescribed....that the marriage has broken down; or (b) the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for a period of one year or more that immediately precedes, includes or immediately follows the date of presentation of the petition."
Questions about the acceptability of the proposed legislation to the Anglican Church of Canada have been addressed to various leaders of our Church, by the media as well as by members of the public -- including those of our Communion. In response, it must be stated that neither the General Synod of our Church, nor its National Executive Council, has specifically addressed the subject of Canadian legislation concerning divorce. In that sense, there is no "official" national policy of the Anglican Church of Canada relative to proposed changes in the law advocated by the Minister of Justice.
However, there is a Brief which was presented to the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on Divorce (February 23rd, 1967) by a committee appointed by the Primate (Archbishop Howard Clark) at the request of the House of Bishops. That Brief states that any change in the law concerning marriage and divorce should (a) continue to uphold the ideal intent of marriage as a life-long union (b) respect the integrity of human personality (c) help to strengthen family life (d) provide for custody and care of children and the protection of any other defenceless victims of divorce. A major part of the Brief is devoted to supporting the principle "that marriage breakdown should be substituted for matrimonial offence as the basis for divorce in any new legislation." The brief continues:
"It is our opinion that this concept provides a better basis for dealing effectively with the needs of people whose marriages have failed because it requires that a marriage be dealt with in its total social and moral context. We therefore recommend that in dealing with divorce petitions the breakdown of marriage should be recognized as a question of fact and that no rules of law defining marriage breakdown should be established, lest the present recriminatory attitudes and procedures continue to be fostered. Our conclusion is that the principle of marriage breakdown and the methods necessary to determine it as a matter of fact are basically incompatible with the principle of the matrimonial offence, and that marriage breakdown should replace the existing grounds rather than be added as a further ground for divorce."
The Committee on Marriage and Related Matters is charged with the task of suggesting policy to the Church in relation to contemporary marriage. That Committee was advised early in 1983 of the intention of the Minister of Justice to introduce amendments to the Divorce Act, and in subsequent meetings has given its attention to the matter. The Committee has recorded its opinion that in any responses the Church may wish to make to the proposed changes, it must affirm marriage and also the reality of forgiveness and the possibility of change in the individuals involved. This Committee also affirms the need to secure justice for dependent spouses and children when marriages have broken down.
While the Anglican Church of Canada has no "official" policy on divorce law reform, the following statements are consistent with our general approach to the matter:
(a) we reaffirm the principle enunciated by the 1967 Committee of the House of Bishops: viz. that marriage breakdown should be the sole basis for the legal dissolution of a marriage.
(b) the "waiting period" between breakdown and petition for divorce must not, under any circumstances, be less than one year. A longer period would be preferable.
(c) legislation should contain adequate provisions for maintenance and child support which apply uniformly in all parts of the country, and efficient enforcement of maintenance orders through the initiative of state agencies, thus relieving the dependent party of the exhausting task of seeking enforcement.
(d) The provision of divorce based on "no fault" and the reduction of the waiting period will put added pressure on the ideal of the permanence of marriage. Major increased emphasis on marriage preparation and the provision of counselling services by both the churches and community agencies will be even more essential if the proposed legislation is enacted.
The 1967 Brief asserts that:
"before proceeding with hearing for divorce on the grounds of marriage breakdown the court should be assured that every effort has been made to achieve reconciliation and that further attempts would be in vain. This would require exploration concerning the availability and use of professional services and the provision of the same when they do not at present exist."
In this connection we welcome the assurance of the Minister of Justice that "the new divorce law would promote mediation and counselling services at any stage of the divorce proceedings, to help prevent impetuous divorces where there is hope of saving the marriage."
(e) while stressing the importance of provision for counselling services, we do not advocate that mediation procedures be compulsory before court proceedings are initiated. We continue to support a report presented to the General Synod in 1969, which stated that "counselling, by its nature, cannot be made mandatory." On the other hand we commend counselling and negotiation with a view to arranging property settlements and making agreements for maintenance and custody before presenting the petition.
We appreciate the reasons for the changes in the legislation as proposed by the Minister of Justice -- namely a less adversarial, more humane and conciliatory process for dealing with marriages which have ceased to exist in any meaningful way. At the same time, we wish to state as emphatically as we can that the well being of the family as a basic institution in society continues to be a matter of profound concern for the Church. We trust that the new legislation, if enacted, will not convey the impression that the laws of this land treat lightly the seriousness, and the sacredness, of the marriage bond.