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.