INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity in Canada
copyright 2006 Integrity/Toronto.
The hard-copy version of this newsletter carries the ISSN 0843-574X
Integrity/Toronto Box 873 Stn F Toronto ON Canada M4Y 2N9
THE ISSUE IS JUSTICE, NOT UNITY, SAYS ARCHBISHOP
by Marites Sison, of Anglican Journal
ON THE BRINK OF CHAOS
Global south primates demand complete control of covenant process
by Ron Chaplin
ARCHBISHOP URGED TO DISCOUNT EX-GAY CLAIMS
An open letter from Integrity in Canada to the Archbishop of Canterbury
by Stephen Bates, of the Guardian
The issue is Justice, not Unity, says Archbishop
By Marites N. Sison
Archbishop Terence Finlay, the retired bishop of the Anglican diocese of Toronto and metropolitan (senior bishop) of Ontario, has acknowledged he officiated at a same-sex marriage of a lesbian couple in a United Church in Toronto and has expressed the hope that Anglicans would "reflect on this with understanding."
"Yes, I did participate in a marriage of two dear friends who happen to be gay. One of whom, I have known for many, many years," said Archbishop Finlay, when asked by the Anglican Journal to confirm reports about his involvement in the ceremony that took place over the summer. "The couple I married are very close friends of our family. I've known one since she was a small child; her father was one of my theological professors and he was an honorary assistant in one of my parishes and over the years, our families have remained very close." It was out of a "long journey of love, friendship, support and familial relationship with this particular person and her partner" that Archbishop Finlay said he "came to the conclusion that their love for one another was part of God's divine love and it was appropriate that that be deeply blessed."
Archbishop Terry Finlay and his wife Alice Jean,
watching the 2003 Toronto Pride Parade.
Archbishop Finlay, who made headlines in the early 1990s for firing a priest for maintaining a homosexual relationship, has said in recent years that he has reached a new place in his understanding of homosexuality. He said he was not trying to make a statement or encourage other clergy to defy the church's marriage canon, which allows the sacrament for a man and a woman only. "I'll be quite clear that it wasn't done as a publicity stunt to make waves. I married two people who love each other deeply; they care about the church and I believe their commitment has been blessed by God," he said.
The archbishop, who retired in 2004, said that as a consequence of his action, he has been "admonished" and has had his licence to officiate at marriages suspended by the diocesan bishop of Toronto, Colin Johnson. Bishop Johnson could not be reached for comment.
In a memo issued 1 September 2006 to clergy of the diocese and obtained by the Journal, Bishop Johnson did not name Archbishop Finlay as the cleric who presided at a same-sex marriage during the summer. He stated that he had "reprimanded him in writing, admonished him not to do so again, and suspended his licence to officiate at marriages until the end of 2006." The act of presiding at a same-sex marriage breached Canon XXI of General Synod, On Marriage in the Church, wrote Bishop Johnson. "Same-sex marriages are not authorized at this time in the diocese of Toronto and I do not condone diocesan clergy officiating at such marriages, whether in the Anglican church or elsewhere." He added: "While there is considerable debate and indeed discord within the diocese and across the Anglican Communion about whether an individual diocese (or even parish) might have authority to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions, the matter of marriage falls clearly under the jurisdiction of the General Synod canons in the Anglican Church of Canada."
(The Anglican Church of Canada's governing body, General Synod, will meet in June 2007 to decide on the issue of same-sex blessings.)
The bishop also reminded clergy that, "Our oaths as ordained persons (ie people under Orders) require all of us to uphold the discipline of the canons, even if some of us feel called to work to amend or repeal them."
Bishop Johnson, who had served as Archbishop Finlay's executive assistant for 11 years prior to being elected as his successor in 2004, wrote that he was "very disappointed" that he had to admonish and discipline the unnamed cleric and expressed "trust that it will not be necessary to do so again."
Archbishop Finlay said he understood Bishop Johnson's actions. "He was quite right to call me on the carpet and to admonish me. I officiated at the wedding of a same-sex couple even though the wedding took place in a United Church and the United Church minister signed the licence."
While he does not regret having presided at the same-sex wedding, Archbishop Finlay said he regrets "any pain or embarrassment I caused him (Bishop Johnson). " He added: "I'm very aware of the difficulties of decisions, the decisions that a diocesan bishop faces and that certainly was part of my thoughts and prayers."
(In 2003, while he was diocesan bishop, Archbishop Finlay, directed by his diocesan council, admonished the Rev Sara Boyles, a priest in his diocese, for performing a same-sex blessing without his consent.)
Archbishop Finlay's declined to comment on what impact his action would have on the Rev Jim Ferry, the Toronto priest he fired in 1992 for maintaining a homosexual relationship. Mr Ferry, then the parish priest of St. Philip's, in Unionville, ON, had revealed his homosexual relationship to Archbishop Finlay, who later asked him to resign his post. When Mr Ferry refused, Archbishop Finlay fired him and placed him under inhibition, banning him from exercising his priesthood anywhere in the Anglican Communion. A Bishop's Court later upheld Mr Ferry's dismissal after a trial that generated local and international media coverage.
"Life in the church was very different in those days, " said Archbishop Finlay. "All I can say is that I recently spoke at a gathering, and at that time, I said one of my deep regrets was that although I tried to find ways to restore the licence to Jim and to Joyce (Barnett) and Alison (Kemper), I wasn't able to do it." (In the 1980s, Ms Barnett and Ms Kemper, both Anglican deacons, were disciplined by Archbishop Finlay's predecessor, the late Archbishop Lewis Garnsworthy, for maintaining a homosexual relationship. Their licences were not restored but Archbishop Finlay granted them permission to function under the oversight of Ms Boyles, parish priest of Holy Trinity Church, Toronto. Ms Barnett and Ms Kemper were married in 2003; Ms Boyles subsequently blessed their civil marriage and later, was admonished by Archbishop Finlay for not respecting his refusal to give permission to perform the blessing.)
Archbishop Finlay also said he had reflected about how his action relates to the Canadian church. "I think our church has waited a long time and has discussed this issue over and over and in this particular situation, time just run out for me. It's no secret that for many years now I've been in favour of the local option (allowing individual dioceses to decide whether to allow same-sex blessings) and I tried to encourage the church to look at that as a way of addressing the way which the whole sexuality issue has deeply divided some people," he said. "As an active bishop I've followed and I've upheld the oaths of the office that I took and particularly around the issue of unity in the church. But for me now, this issue has moved from one of unity to one of justice."
Archbishop Finlay expressed the hope that Anglicans across the country would "reflect on this (his action) with understanding and recognize that we are a family that can contain with it enormous diversity; gifted people from all sorts of different persons. And that this is the journey of one person."
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This article is reprinted by permission from The Anglican Journal.
On the Brink of Chaos
Global south primates demand complete control of covenant process
by Ron Chaplin
The Hôtel des Milles-Collines sits in the outskirts of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, one of the most achingly beautiful places in the continent of Africa. The establishment is better known to most of us as Hotel Rwanda, portrayed in an American movie as a place for those desperately seeking refuge from the marauding gangs that murdered at least 600,000 of their compatriots in a fratricidal campaign 12 years ago.
This is where, in September the Primates of the Global South met in their second-ever conclave. This regional bloc is an innovation within the Anglican Communion. Most people will acknowledge that there are many concerns common to our churches in the Global South that are not so relevant to our churches in Western countries - issues such as extreme poverty, the legacy of colonialism, non-existent health care, the AIDS crisis (particularly in Africa), and relationships with Muslims and other majoritarian faith communities.
So be it. I understand that all these issues were on the agenda.
So it was with amazement that I saw that the largest part of their closing communiqué dealt not with the Global South and its particular problems at all, but with the organizational structure of the Episcopal Church of the United States. The interference of the Southern Primates in the governing of the American Church is without precedent in the history of the Anglican Communion.
The Primates of the Global South proposed:
- That the Global South Steering Committee meet with the seven American bishops requesting alternative primatial oversight because they cannot accept a woman, Katherine Jefferts Schori, as their presiding bishop, to develop a proposal on how such might be provided.
- That one of these bishops be invited to the Primates meeting to be held in February, 2006, in addition to the duly elected presiding bishop, to represent the American dioceses that cannot accept her as their primate.
- That the Global South Steering Committee develop a proposal for the creation of a "separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA", in other words, a new church
The Primates also received a report from the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), also chaired by Archbishop Akinola, entitled The Road to Lambeth. In it, two remarkable alarums are sounded:
- "We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers." This would exclude almost all bishops of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Michael Ingham of the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster, and possibly other Canadians.
- "We believe that the initiative for the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant should rest with the Global South churches. We do not have confidence [in] a Covenant produced by those churches that have caused or condoned the theological crisis...." Our thoughts and contributions, apparently, are not welcome.
It is no coincidence that, on the same days that the Southern Primates were meeting in Kigali, some 21 American bishops gathered at Camp Allen, Texas, at the invitation of the bishop of Texas, Don Wimberly. Included were all seven bishops who have requested alternative primatial oversight, and at least two bishops (Mark MacDonald of Alaska, and Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island) who are on record for voting to confirm the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. This group is referred to in the Kigali communiqué by a new name, the "Windsor bishops". They claim to adhere to the recommendations of the Windsor Report.
Not everyone is so sure that these American bishops are truly "Windsor-compliant". The ink was barely dry on the Kigali communiqué when, on September 25, South African Archbishop Njongonkulu Ngdungane denied any support for its most substantive sections. About the Global South meeting, he stated, "I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States.... To me, at least, it appears in places that there is a hidden agenda, to which some of us are not privy. For example, I am unable to understand why there seems to be a deliberate intention to undermine the due processes of the Anglican Communion and the integrity of the Instruments of Unity, while at the same time we commit ourselves to upholding Anglican identity."
The primate of the Philippines has also distanced himself from the Kigali communiqué.
What is clear from these two meetings, in Texas and in Rwanda, is this: Neither the majority of the Southern Primates, nor the American "Windsor bishops", have any intention of respecting the processes recommended in the Windsor Report. They have already demonstrated, by word and deed, that they will not respect diocesan boundaries, nor the autonomy of the various provinces of the Anglican Communion.
These are the people who wish to be entrusted with writing a new covenant, a new agreement binding the various parts of the Anglican Communion. Why should they be trusted, when they repeatedly break the rules, undermine processes, and write conclusions before discussions have even begun?
As Canadians, we can at least be grateful that many of these matters could well come to a head at the next Primates Meeting, to be held in February in Tanzania. This will be the first international meeting attended by the newly consecrated Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori. Will the other archbishops break bread with her, or allow her to take her place at the table? What decisions will be made about the Windsor process?
The Primates Meeting should give us some clear indications of other Provinces' commitment to cooperation or schism, before General Synod determines whether or not revisions to teachings and practice regarding same-sex relationships is, or is not, a doctrinal issue; and whether and how we commit ourselves to the Windsor process.
The Global South Primates report that their first action together was to visit the Genocide Museum in Gisozi. It can be hoped that they were somehow changed by gazing upon the mortal remains of these victims of hollow hatred, unspeakable slander, and sectarian division.
I know from experience that there is much wisdom in Africa, and much insight to be gained by listening to the silenced voices in the Land of the Thousand Hills. We in North America would have hoped for a more productive and more respectful outcome from the Primates meeting in that place.
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Ron Chaplin has been part of Integrity in Canada for many years.
He is active with the newly-restarted Integrity/Ottawa
Archbishop urged to discount ex-gay claims
An open letter from Integrity in Canada to the Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Rev and Rt Hon, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams
LONDON, United Kingdom
It appears that the open letter has become one vehicle for conversation within our Communion concerning the place and participation of the Church's gay and lesbian members. We write to you today in the spirit of extending this conversation, prompted by the recent circulation on the web of a letter to you from an "ex-gay" Anglican group in Canada in response to a recent interview you gave, though we would have been glad to speak to you on any occasion that presented itself. Further, let us be clear that we have no intention to "spin" your comments, but rather to reflect upon them from our perspective.
To begin, we state our belief, as gay-affirming Anglicans, that same-sex sexual orientation has as its essential nature the intrinsically good motivation to intimate communion with another person. We have come to this belief after careful study, prayer, and dialogue, in openness to the Holy Spirit, over many decades. We therefore regard "ex-gay" attempts to change one's homosexual orientation as unnecessary. Authentic and biblical Christian faith simply does not require it.
This is not to say that sexual attitudes, impulses, and behaviours should not change - indeed, life in Christ makes change inevitable! We believe that all who bring their sexuality into their relationship with the Living God will find it transformed to be ever more life-giving for self and other. This is what our faith journey has revealed to us, heterosexual and homosexual alike. We therefore support our General Synod's affirmation of the "integrity and sanctity" of committed same-sex relationships.
We recognize, however, that others' journeys may take them into ex-gay groups or programs, and among us are many for whom this was one leg of the journey to becoming gay-affirming. We would be remiss, however, if we did not acknowledge the scientific evidence that programs aimed at "re-orientation" have not demonstrated efficacy and, perhaps more importantly, the testimony of those whose experiences in such programs were far from benign. We offer the particular experience of our friends in the UK group Courage, at one time your nation's leading ex-gay ministry. According to the group's founder, after fourteen years of attempting to change the sexual orientation of its members, it was "quite obvious that the conservative Christian approach to homosexuality not only fails to produce the promised results, but has a very destructive effect on the lives of many gay people and their families and an extremely corrosive effect on their faith in Christ." Courage now focuses its work on helping gay Christians to integrate their faith and their homosexuality.
We do not prejudge that all people who desire to become "ex-gay" will eventually become "ex-ex-gay", nor that their faith or well-being will necessarily be diminished in the attempt. We, in Integrity Canada, do have a special concern for those who feel led by the Holy Spirit to affirm their homosexuality and to embrace the wholeness offered to all of God's children in Jesus Christ, and consequently we offer our friendship and support during what might be for them a challenging change. In the end, regardless of what they come to know their sexual orientation to be, we have the same hope for every person: to be authentic, to love, and be loved.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you. We recognize the burdens upon you in your role as Archbishop of Canterbury, and we keep you always in our prayers.
Yours in Christ,
The people of Integrity in Canada
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In mid-August, Archbishop Williams gave an interview to a Dutch newspaper. He commented then "We welcome people into the Church, we say: 'You can come in and that decision will change you.' ". Of course, becoming Christian should change everyone's lives. Some conservatives took his comments to have a much narrower focus: that gays and lesbians must change their orientation to be admissible to the Body of Christ.
A Canadian "ex-gay" group wrote an open letter to Archbishop Williams, expressing appreciation for what they perceived to be his statement that lesbians and gays must change (ie become "ex-gay", whatever that might mean) if we want to be a part of the Anglican church.
The Integrity letter was written in response to that "ex-gay" letter. A reasonable reading of the Canterbury's interview comments fails to indicate anything of the sort. It carefully avoided the reprehensible "spin" the ex-gay group's letter engaged in. We don't know for certain at this time what the Archbishop's views are on our full membership in our Church. We thought the ex-gay open letter offered an opportunity to extend the conversation in the world-wide Church by offering a gay-affirming perspective. Gay and lesbian people have not been invited to share our faith journeys despite the Lambeth undertaking to make such invitations, so we take whatever opportunities arise.
Integrity's letter was first drafted by Dr Don Meen, who is past president of Integrity Vancouver, and a practicing clinical psychologist. It was signed by representatives of Integrity across Canada.
Kevin Simpson (left) and Dr Don Meen
Dr Don and his partner of 29 years, Kevin Simpson, will celebrate the blessing of their covenant later this month at St Margaret's, Cedar Cottage.
By Stephen Bates
The extremes of opinion over the gay debate are tearing the Anglican church apart, an archbishop has warned.
Yesterday, while many Church of England services were celebrating in time-honoured` fashion the rituals of harvest festival, an altogether starker and more urgent message about the church's future was delivered from the pulpit of Southwark Cathedral by an African archbishop. It would do every practising Anglican good to hear it.
Admittedly Southwark may not be a place where there is a sizeable harvest to celebrate, apart perhaps from the diocese's most verdant and furthest reaches, beyond Tooting and Brixton, out towards the Surrey hills, but the sermon from Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane (which will be up in full on the Southwark diocese website, for those interested) spelled out the nature of the third largest Christian religious denomination today, where distrust and intolerance rule and ancient traditions are forgotten in the lust for a self-proclaimed and self-righteous conservative evangelical orthodoxy.
Archbishop Ndungane - Desmond Tutu's successor in Cape Town - warned that the extremes of conservatism and liberalism over the gay debate which is tearing Anglicanism apart are not the only options open to sensible church people to follow and that there does not need to be a split between the two sides of what was once a famously tolerant and open-hearted church.
He had come almost straight from a meeting of developing-world Anglican archbishops held recently in Kigali, Rwanda which adopted a communiqué effectively banishing the American Episcopal and Canadian Anglican churches for their more open and liberal stance towards gay people, promising to set up alternative arrangements for conservative North Americans and threatening not to recognise the new US presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, at the next primates get-together in Tanzania next February for the unpardonable sin of being both a woman and willing to allow same-sex blessings for religiously inclined gay couples.
Ndungane, from a different Anglican tradition, disagrees with almost all of this. "I do not believe that the primates of the global south can issue statements in the name of our provinces without proper consultation," he told the congregation in Southwark. The archbishop left the Kigali meeting early, without being told of, or having a chance to debate or disassociate himself from the communiqué, which another of the 20 primates at the meeting - the primate of the Philippines - has also now repudiated.
The Kigali statement was rich in self-righteousness and has rightly been picked apart as schismatic in an editorial in last Friday's Church Times. It indeed mentioned the Rwanda genocide of 12 years ago, though without reflecting that it was the result of inter-tribal intolerance and bigotry, and then went on to expatiate at length about homosexuality and the shortcomings of the US church.
Curiously, the primates found no time whatever to address shortcomings much nearer to home, such as the corruption of the Anglican church in Central Africa and particularly the weird and deranged behaviour of the Bishop of Harare, charged by his own congregation with expropriating land, embezzling funds and, most extraordinary of all, inciting the murder of his opponents. Recently, the good bishop even ordered all churches within his diocese to devote their Sunday offerings to buying him and his wife 33rd wedding anniversary presents, rather than devoting their hard-earned money to more worthwhile and, one might have thought, urgent causes. But there we are, everyday life in the ever-so righteous Anglican church in Africa.
They must hope that even the most fervent or purblind conservative evangelicals in the rest of the world will ignore or overlook such minor peccadilloes in their pursuit of the much greater wickedness of those members of the church who wish to bless the long-term, monogamous and loving commitment of same-sex couples who, in the face of all provocation, actually wish to remain members of such an institutionally homophobic church as the Anglican communion has become.
There aren't any Church of England conservatives flying out, I notice, to raise their voices against the outrageous actions of the Rt Rev Dr Nolbert Kunonga of Harare, or to offer their outspoken support to his poor, benighted parishioners. Or to call for him to be thrown out of the church like the Americans and Canadians. It is all much too difficult and much less agreeable than accepting free trips to be feted by the conservative dissidents of the US Episcopal church.
We notice the Bishop of Rochester, who says he thinks the Americans are no longer Christians, is quite prepared to bless the iron-laden but allegedly health-giving spa waters of Tunbridge Wells and that Anglican clergy the length of the country are happy to bless vegetables, tins of baked beans and family pets. But if, like the retired Archbishop of Canada, Terry Finlay, they admit to blessing a gay couple they are cast into outer darkness.
Archbishop Finlay, with whom I shared a platform (and later dinner) at a conference in Toronto last May, acknowledged at the weekend that he officiated this summer at the blessing of two old and close friends, and for such an courageous act he has now lost his licence to officiate at weddings in his old diocese of Toronto. He told the Anglican Journal: "The couple I married are very close friends of our family. I've known one since she was a small child; her father was one of my theological professors." He said he made his decision out of a "long journey of love, friendship, support and familial relationship" which drew him to the conclusion that their love for each other was part of God's divine love and that it was appropriate that it should be divinely blessed.
What a foolhardy, not to say dastardly, thing to do. The American conservative websites are already frothing with rage and fury - not to say a lack of Christian charity - at his temerity. But the archbishop's acknowledgement is actually the more powerful and affecting because 14 years ago he fired a priest named the Rev Jim Ferry when he revealed that he was in a long-term homosexual relationship. The decision caused a furore in Canada at the time. At the conference in May, the archbishop admitted to Ferry's face that he had changed his mind and offered him an apology. Now he has gone a step further and, for his pains, has been admonished and disciplined by his successor, Bishop Colin Johnson.
Now America and Canada are starting to walk apart from the Anglican communion and it is possible that other churches nearer to home will shortly be willing to do so. The Celtic bishops of the Anglican churches in Wales, Scotland and Ireland are meeting this week and are likely to express their refusal to accept the covenant proposal being touted by Archbishop Rowan Williams (formerly one of their number as a Welsh bishop, of course) as a way of binding the worldwide church together under an agreed doctrinal and disciplinary structure. The Celts won't agree to that and are already furious about the way their former colleague has trimmed to the conservatives' wind now he is nominal head of the worldwide communion at Canterbury. If they go, where does that leave the Church of England? Still blessing vegetables and spa water? Never mind, the latter at least will keep them pure.
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STEPHEN BATES is the Religion correspondent for the Guardian (UK).
This blog entry appeared first on the Guardian's Comment is Free website, and is reproduced by permission.