In response to a request from the House of Bishops (February 1988), the Primate reported he had invited Mrs. P. Creighton, Mrs. D. Marshall and Dr. J. Reed to form a Task Force to prepare a contemporary statement regarding abortion.
It was agreed that we, as Christians, must work towards the creation of a society in which every human being is welcome and recognized that we must both work for change of legislation which affects social programming.
Chancellor David Wright stated that difficulties outside the Criminal Code fall within the jurisdiction of the provinces and the federal government can enter the field only through the Criminal Code, but can control processes through funding.
That this National Executive Council:
1. express its heartfelt thanks to the members of the Task Force on Abortion;
2. endorses the report of the Task Force;
3. refers the report to the Primate for appropriate action. CARRIED #65-05-88
It was agreed that the Primate should send the report to appropriate people in the life of the church and the country.
The Primate, on behalf of the NEC, expressed thanks to Mrs. Creighton, Mrs. Marshall and Dr. Reed for their report.
Toronto hospitals are performing abortions "without restriction," according to a prominent official of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Rev. Arthur Brown, rector of a large Toronto parish and a member of the National Executive Council of General Synod made the charge in connection with deliberations on a forthcoming report by a Task Force on Human Life.
The report is not expected to be completed until the end of 1973 and Father Brown said he and other pastors are impatiently awaiting it for guidance on new and complex moral situations.
He told bishops and other delegates from across Canada to the executive council that "all kinds of girls are going through our hospitals in metropolitan Toronto being aborted of pregnancies." His information, he said, comes from nurses and other hospital staff.
Father Brown claimed that staffs in some Toronto hospitals are aborting without restriction "under the guise of it being good for the total health of the mother."
Five years ago, he said, one Toronto hospital listed 28 abortions. Last year, the number was over 300, "ten times as many, or more."
He said "doctors are compromised by the destruction of human life" in this abortion situation. On becoming doctors, he said, they swear an oath to preserve life but due to the present situation "they are placed in a major compromised situation."
Father Brown said nursing staffs are upset over having to clean up after induced miscarriages and they come to him for guidance.
Archbishop E.W. Scott, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada expressed deep sympathy towards the position described by Father Brown but said the task force's report will take another year due to the complexities of the issues involved.
"It's becoming obvious that people are feeling a need for help in making decisions in these areas," Archbishop Scott said.
"Each case has to be evaluated in terms of the health of the mother and the possible health of the child, and not only on the question of the sanctity of life but also in the area of the quality of life."
Archbishop Scott emphasized that hospital boards deciding abortion cases should include persons representing moral issues as well as medical issues.
Besides abortion, the task force is studying the whole concept of when life begins and ends in relation to euthanasia, transplants, biological engineering and the vast implications of discoveries in biochemistry. Archbishop Scott said the study has become increasingly complex as it delves into the legal, medical, moral and social aspects of life. The task force is composed of lawyers, doctors, research scientists, housewives, social workers, theologians and others. It is also consulting with similarly concerned groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world.
A progress report will be presented to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada at its biennial meeting next May in Regina.
Mississauga, May 13, 1988 -- The Anglican Church will today [EDITOR: Friday] attempt to define a third choice in the debate on therapeutic abortion.
A task force report to be delivered to the church's national executive council meeting here this afternoon, says: "Too often the abortion debate is couched in terms of a woman's right over her own body as against a foetus's right to life." It suggests the issue may be addressed from a new perspective in which neither the mother nor the foetus is required to serve as "victim."
"Christians hold a spectrum of personal views about the morality of abortion, from utter rejection of it to conviction that it is a personal ethical matter for a woman."
Either approach, the report suggests, is one-sided: either it ignores the cry of the unborn while trying to raise the status of women; or it remains indifferent to the plight of women while trying to protect the unborn.
The task force was convened in March to consider the Anglican Church's stance on abortion in light of the Supreme Court's decision in the Morgentaler case. That decision declared the provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with abortions to be unconstitutional. The church had previously expressed its support for the law.
The 15-page report recommends that the church continue to oppose unregulated access to abortion. The church, it says, sees abortion as "always a tragedy fraught with moral ambiguity...To resort to abortion lightly or casually is to degrade our humanity, to deny the responsibility and responsiveness of human nature."
SEEKING "TRUE" CHOICE
The report spends its greatest energy addressing the circumstances in which women "choose" abortion. In many cases, it says, the choice is hollow: When women choose to abort, it is frequently in coercive, lonely and grief-stricken circumstances where they feel completely unable to bear their child. Often the biggest problem facing the woman is her lack of a real social and economic support system. Many women who choose not to bear their children, then, make their decision out of alienation and hopelessness.
"For us as Christians, such despair cannot be left as the motive force...True choice must involve alternatives to despair."
The report says new legislation to regulate abortion should "establish procedures to make abortion available equitably across the country as a therapeutic measure for women whose pregnancies endanger their life or their physical or mental health." It says counselling should be required.
The report rejects the concept of legislating easy access to early abortion and more restricted access later in the term (after 12 weeks for example): "Abortion is always the taking of a human life and, in our view, should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons. Any such line is arbitrary and seems to argue that the value of the foetus and the seriousness of abortion in the early stages will be discounted."
ABORTION OR POVERTY TOO OFTEN ONLY CHOICE
Noting that many women have a choice of aborting a foetus or bearing a child to live in poverty, the report urges an extensive program of social action to reduce conditions which make the choice of abortion more likely. It stresses the need for:
* more affordable housing;
* pay equity for women;
* a guaranteed annual income, and other financial measures "to secure the dignity -- indeed the survival -- of mothers and children;"
Bishop Matthews distributed and read out the writing group's most recent draft of the bishops' pastoral statement, "A message to the Anglican Church of Canada" on the topic of blessing same sex unions. Questions and comments from the floor were invited. Discussion followed. The bishops had run out of meeting time and so it was agreed that the document should continue to be worked on. Generally it was agreed that it was preferable to offer a pastoral statement, but not appropriate to deliver a canonical response.
We entrust completion of the House of Bishops' document "A Message to the Anglican Church of Canada" to its authors and that it be forwarded to the House of Bishops for their final input. CARRIED HB Res. 04-04-07
[Niagara Falls, Ont.] Apr, 20, 2007 -- To Canadian Anglicans, from the House of Bishops
Brothers and sisters in Christ
The House of Bishops met at Mount Carmel retreat center in Niagara Falls from Tuesday April 17 to Friday April 20. We write this letter to the Canadian Church so that Anglicans will know what we did and how the meeting was for us. As has been our custom for the last while, we devoted the first part of our days together to prayer and Bible study.
This, our last meeting of the triennium was an appropriate time for us to be blessed by a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. His Grace was with us for less than 24 hours, but his presence was a significant and valued gift. He lead us in prayer and conducted a retreat on the theme of apostolic ministry during which he delivered a number of reflections that gave us profound insights into our ministries and how we do them. We found the Archbishop of Canterbury’s humility, wisdom and humour filling both intellectually and spiritually. During breaks in the day, Dr. Williams met with the bishops of all four ecclesiastical provinces. His time with us was spirit-filled and especially important to us on the eve of a General Synod where many important decisions will be made and where a new Primate will be elected and installed. His reflections set the tone for our meeting.
We also heard from several other people whose presence and ministries enrich us.
Bishop Mark MacDonald joined us for the first time since his appointment earlier this year as National Indigenous Bishop and he spoke stirringly about a life spent in ministry with indigenous peoples. He spoke to us of how and where native people see God. He gave us a vision of a new partnership with indigenous people. He told us that the kind of renewed church that can emerge from this partnership will be very different, though exactly what it will look like we cannot yet know. Bishop MacDonald expressed a strong commitment to work with us towards that future.
Bishop Peter Coffin, who will soon retire as Bishop of Ottawa but who remains with us as Bishop Ordinary to the Armed Forces, spoke to us of spending Easter with Canadian troops in Afghanistan, at a time when there were several Canadian casualties. Bishop Coffin personifies the importance of this ministry at a critical time in world affairs.
We heard from Bishop Philip Poole who, with Bishop Coffin, attended the TEAM (Towards Effective Anglican Mission) conference in South Africa, an experience which Bishop Poole said moved him to tears. The conference examined how churches are responding to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. Bishop Poole said he was profoundly stirred by the energy and joy that the people he met bring to being church despite their very difficult circumstances. The gathering, he said, brought home to him, the many valuable ministries of the church.
We spent much of our time in consideration of the primacy, both what it has been and what it can become and, for this purpose, we were joined by former Bishop of Ottawa John Baycroft who presented us with a valuable reflection on a primacy rooted in Episcopal ministry and on different ways in which that ministry can be exercised. He spoke to us of the past as a means of envisioning a future for this crucial ministry.
As part of our discussion on the primacy, we agreed overwhelmingly to ask the General Synod when it gathers in June to establish a task force made up 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” and if necessary to recommend changes to the Canon on the primacy for consideration at the General Synod in 2010.
Wednesday evening, we attended a dinner with Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, our Primate, and his wife Lois, so that we could express our profound appreciation for his three-year ministry as Primate. Archbishop Andrew’s leadership of the church and his chairing of our house in the past three years bear eloquent witness to his passionate dedication to the principles of communication and reconciliation. He began his primacy by saying he would “bring people to the table” and he has strived consistently to do so.
We spent much of the following day in prayerful consideration of possible successors to Archbishop Hutchison, our 12th Primate, and as a result of these deliberations, we will submit a list of four nominees to the General Synod. They are Bishop Bruce Howe of Huron, Bishop Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Bishop George Bruce of Ontario and Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton.
As we considered candidates for the primatial election, news reached us of a death in the family of Bishop Bruce who was therefore obliged to leave us before the end of our gathering. We pray for him, for his family and for his deceased daughter-in-law.
We devoted a significant amount of time to a discussion of a statement from the bishops of Rupert’s Land about the resolutions on same-sex blessings produced by the Council of General Synod for the consideration of the General Synod. We also heard a substantive presentation by bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario about how we as bishops should prepare for the outcome of the vote by General Synod on this issue, regardless of what that decision might be. We agreed that we as bishops must be prepared to offer a pastoral response regardless of the outcome of the vote at General Synod.
On our last day together we worked on a draft statement to members of the General Synod and to members of the church that offers pastoral responses to a decision on the blessing of same-sex unions. This document will be developed further by its authors and will then be submitted to members of the House for approval by email and, we hope, for inclusion in the Convening Circular.
That this General Synod encourage each diocese to be responsible for sending copies of resolutions passed at General Synod regarding abortion and programs of education on this topic once they are developed, to the various secular agencies involved in counselling of families and young women facing issues of abortion. CARRIED ACT 89
The Primate, as President of the House, presented the report and outlined the recommendations.
That this National Executive Council authorize the Primate to take the necessary steps as soon as possible to have the Report on Abortion, following minor revisions, printed in an appropriate form and made available to the church and the Canadian public. CARRIED #49-11-88
Dean Nock, in introducing the report of the Task Force on Human Life on Abortion, noted General Synod, 1971, Resolution which called for the establishment of the Task Force, and General Synod, 1973, Resolution requesting the Task Force to produce a report for November NEC on Abortion.
The Primate introduced those members of the Task Force present: Rev. P. Chidwick - Chairman, Rev. P. Gibson, Miss Betty C. Graham, Mr. H. Allan Leal, Mr. S.E. Kingstone, Dr. C.R. Feilding, Dr. David McCallion, Mrs. Phyllis Creighton, Dr. Eugene Fairweather.
Mr. Chidwick, in his introductory remarks, noted that the Task Force will address itself in the future to such pertinent areas of concern as transplantation, cloning, euthanasia, artificial insemination by donor, and stated that the Task Force would be pleased to submit further Papers to the NEC.
Mrs. Phyllis Creighton, in speaking to the Report on behalf of the Task Force, noted three major areas to which the Task Force had given consideration; the Law, the Church's role, and the Community.
Following a period of discussion and dialogue with members of the Task Force the following action was taken.
That this National Executive Council receive the Report on Abortion of the Task Force on Human Life with appreciation to the members of the Task Force for their efforts, insights and recommendations;
That we endorse those recommendations and express the hope that the Task Force will continue its work within the original terms of reference;
And that we commend the Report to the Church, the Government and the Community for study, and that it be referred to the Program Committee to publish and implement the Report in close cooperation with the Task Force on Human Life. CARRIED
In closing, the Primate thanked the members of the Task Force for their presence, and for their generous gifts of interdisciplinary expertise represented in the Report on Abortion. Archbishop Scott paid special tribute to Mrs. Phyllis Creighton who edited and compiled the Report, and presented Mrs. Creighton with a floral token of appreciation on behalf of the members of the National Executive Council.