Bishops Consider Dissenters: New Task Force Will Consider Care for 'Minorities'

Article excerpt

Mississauga, Ont.

The continuing debate concerning homosexuality and the church flared into open conflict at the regular fall meeting of Canadian Anglican bishops, with a compromise proposal approved that will consider how best to care for those who disapprove of church decisions.

The bishops authorized a task force "to draw up terms and conditions for adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities in the Anglican Church of Canada," to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury through the Canadian primate and to report to the April 2004 meeting of the house of bishops.

The bishops also asked for a ceasefire among the various warring parties in and around the diocese of New Westminster (where the blessing of gay couples is permitted), the possibility of which seemed remote during the meeting but was granted a week later.

The bishops' meeting took place just a week before Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon announced he was withdrawing his otter of episcopal oversight to New Westminster parishes which did not support same-sex blessings. Soon after that announcement, Bishop Buckle's superior said he was dropping charges agains the Yukon bishop and the bishop of New Westminster said he would seek a stay of charges against seven dissenting clergy.

At the bishops' meeting, though, Bishop Buckle said that out of concern "for the safety" of the dissenting parishes, he would continue to offer episcopal oversight to the parishes. Bishop Buckle's supervisor, Archbishop David Crawley of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon, considered that move illegal by church law.

Since Bishop Buckle's announcement, Archbishop Crawley has suspended disciplinary proceedings against Bishop Buckle. Similarly, Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster said seven clergy in his diocese no longer faced disciplinary procedures.

The house of bishops also asked the task force to appoint a mediator that would negotiate an interim role for a visiting bishop in New Westminster that would be acceptable to Bishop Ingham and to the parishes that believe gay relationships should not be blessed. …