Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

‘The public square has been emptied out’

Posted on: November 27th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget   Catholic scholar and activist Mary Jo Leddy speaks on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Council of Churches. Photo: André Forget.


In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) on November 19,  prominent Catholic scholar and activist Mary Jo Leddy spoke about the challenges the 21st century church faces in a world where the importance of common space and the public good has diminished.

The event, “Faith in the Public Square,” was, quite appropriately, held at the Anglican Church of the Redeemer in downtown Toronto, a building which literally stands within a city block of the University of Toronto, Queen’s Park, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the upscale neighbourhood of Yorkville, one of Canada’s wealthiest stretches of street.

While bad weather kept away many members of the CCC, which was meeting in Mississauga, Ont., many clergy, laypeople, and citizens from a variety of backgrounds came out to hear Leddy speak.

Leddy, who founded and wrote for the Catholic New Times in the 1970s and went on to found the Toronto-based refugee aid organization Romero House in 1992, began the lecture with an anecdote from her childhood in Saskatoon, where Protestants and Catholics lived together in a kind of vaguely hostile mutual ignorance. She praised the ways in which the ecumenical movement and the CCC have worked hard to overcome these barriers of ignorance and distrust in order to work for justice and peace.

She went on to add, however, that the CCC “is taken for granted by the vast majority of people in our country.” While the churches may speak in the public square, “the question now is who is listening.”

This is the problem to which Leddy returned throughout her lecture; while the CCC is a witness of Christian unity, and speaks on behalf of its members on many social issues, that doesn’t necessarily matter in a post-modern world where, as she put it, “you can say ‘this is what I believe’ and the answer can be ‘yeah, whatever.’”

Leddy argued that while it would be “all too easy to go on at some length about how the church itself is responsible for some of its loss of voice in the public square,” the church’s struggle for relevancy is tied to a decrease in public engagement in a country where “the public square has been emptied out.”

Speaking of political changes that have taken place over the past decades under the aegis of various political parties, Leddy argued that the public square is increasingly controlled and manipulated to serve the interests of those in power, which in turn has led to a growing cynicism about politics on the part of the general population. “The heart of the matter is that the churches, like many other people in this country, have actually lost faith in the public square itself.”

In this kind of a political climate, all voices of authority are viewed with suspicion, and so, Leddy noted, “the churches may be speaking, but the effect in the public square is not obvious.”

But Leddy also saw hope, particularly in her interactions with the volunteers and interns working at Romero House. Leddy suggested that there is still a hunger to make the world better, but that for the younger generations words alone are viewed with suspicion. The questions they are asking, she said, are about action. She said that she frequently hears “we know what the churches say, but we don’t take it seriously; because we look at how the people live, and when we say how they live we know they don’t mean what they say.”

For Leddy, the conclusion was quite clear: it is not enough for the CCC to simply deliver statements in support or condemnation of things. “I think in this post-modern culture, only our lives give weight to our words.” ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anglican Journal News, November 26, 2014

Conference targets ugly reality of human trafficking

Posted on: November 27th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Diana Swift

 

The Rev. Canon Alice Medcof, conference moderator, and Glendene Grant, an Anglican from Calgary, who spoke about the personal impact of human trafficking in her life.      Photo: Contributed


 

Each year, millions of children, women and men are trafficked into forced labour, domestic servitude and sex. It’s a multi-billion dollar global business, and estimates of the number of Canadians lost annually to this trade range as high as 16,000.

Human trafficking—for which Canada is a country of source, transit and destination—was front and centre at a conference held Nov. 14 at the Sorrento Retreat Centre in Sorrento, B.C.—a week after Canada’s new prostitution law, Bill C-36, received royal assent. Sponsored by the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) Canada in partnership with the Compass Rose Society of Canada, the event attracted about 50 people, lay and clergy.

The emotional core of the conference was the story of its first speaker, Glendene Grant of Calgary, whose “typical girl next door” daughter Jessie Foster was forced into prostitution in the U.S. at age 20. She had gone on vacation to New York and Atlantic City with a trusted male friend she’d known since she was 15. Unbeknownst to Jessie, the smooth-talking friend had become a sex trade recruiter, and she ended up in a house in Las Vegas, coerced into sexual captivity.

Grant has not seen her daughter since Christmas Day 2005 and has not spoken to her since April 2006. Thanks to her mother’s efforts, Jessie’s case received wide media attention in the U.S., but to no avail. “I think she may have been murdered or moved out to another country,” said Grant. She has since worked tirelessly to prevent others from meeting her daughter’s fate, founding the organization MATH, Mothers Against Human Trafficking.

“I was totally ignorant that such a thing could happen so easily and effortlessly,” said the Rev. Canon Dr. Alice Medcof, conference moderator and ecclesiastical province of Canada link for IAWN.

Joy Smith, a Winnipeg MP, noted that traffickers make up to $280,00 per victim. “It’s second only to the drug trade in profits, and it’s happening in every community” she said. And young middle-class girls are quite susceptible. “They are easy to convince, easy to scare, easy to shame. It’s a gigantic manipulative game.”

Sister of Charity Nancy Brown, an advocate for young people at risk for sexual exploitation, outlined programs and services offered by Covenant House and the Salvation Army. She called the conference important in light of changes to Canada’s prostitution laws. “These new laws will only be effective if they are implemented in the community, said Brown. “Education of the public will be key. This conference was a good starting point for educating members of the faith community as to their particular roles in advocacy.”

TV coverage of the event by CFJC Kamloops can be viewed online. In the coming months, IAWN’s website will make available a free e-book with conference presentations, reference materials and reflections from participants.

The world’s faith leaders are joining the efforts against human trafficking. In March, the Vatican, the Anglican Communion and the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University signed an accord to work to end this global scourge by 2020. “The Archbishop of Canterbury would like every parish across the Anglican Communion to be having a conversation about human trafficking. It’s the number one concern,” said Medcof.

—with files from Mary Margaret Dempster

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Anglican Journal News, November 26, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

The Unfashionable Genius of Marilynne Robinson

In her essay “When I Was a Child I Read Books,” the novelist Marilynne Robinson describes how, growing up in northern Idaho in the 1950s, she “preferred books that were old and thick and hard.” Reading was, for Robinson, a portal to a time and place before and beyond her own. Books introduced her to ancient splendors: “I knew a good deal about Constantinople and the Cromwell revolution and chivalry.” The old-fashioned nature of her reading, its discontinuity with her own experience, was part of the enchantment. As she writes, “Relevance was precisely not an issue for me. I looked to Galilee for meaning and to Spokane for orthodonture.”

This sense of willed anachronism should be familiar to readers of Robinson’s work. She has pointed to nineteenth-century American writers like Dickinson and Melville as her most cherished influences (“her old aunts and uncles,” she has called them), and Robinson’s writing can seem as if it emerged, Rip Van Winkle–like, from an earlier time.

Robinson told me in an e-mail exchange that “the modern period has succeeded much too well in putting aside metaphysics.” Her own work tries to correct this. Her novels—Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, and now Lila—are slow, meditative, and religious, more Ralph Waldo Emerson than Zadie Smith. The last three all take place in Eisenhower-era America, long before the Great Recession or subprime mortgages. In her writing as in her reading, relevance—that is, making her novels of their specific moment—is not a priority for Robinson.

To her fans—and there are many, from the New Yorker’s book critic James Wood to Barack Obama—Robinson shows that old-fashioned virtues like seriousness and simplicity are still, in fact, virtues. To her detractors—and there are some—Robinson’s work is stylistically accomplished but frustratingly backward-looking, ignoring much of what has happened, both fictionally and socially, over the past three decades. In a recent essay, the writer Jess Row described Robinson’s characters as “quirky, salt-of-the-earth, hardworking folks, nearly all of whom happen to be white.” They are, in short, characters from an earlier America, if not an imaginary one. On this view, Robinson is an accomplished novelist of nostalgia.

Such criticism makes sense only if you think that fiction lives or dies by its explicit engagement with contemporary life. Relevance isn’t the only aesthetic criterion, and social realism isn’t the only defensible literary style. As Henry James writes, “The house of fiction has…not one window, but a million.” Not every writer has to be Jonathan Franzen.

Robinson doesn’t write social realism, but that doesn’t mean she ignores social existence. Her new novel, Lila, is a sustained examination of what it means to live within and without community. Neglected as a child and raised by a wanderer, the main character, Lila, lives an itinerant life on the margins of mid-century America. Such freedom can be exhilarating. It can also be painful. Lila knows homelessness and despair, and this knowledge shapes how she reacts to future gentleness. When she marries a kind preacher and moves into the small community of Gilead, Iowa, she can’t help but pull back: “That was loneliness. When you’re scalded, touch hurts, it makes no difference if it’s kindly meant.” Few novelists write better about the attractions of solitude, but Robinson acknowledges that it comes at a cost.

What most distinguishes Robinson from her peers, however, isn’t her lack of interest in writing an “issues” novel. It’s her deeply felt, deeply reasoned, deeply committed Calvinism. In essays, lectures, interviews, and novels, Robinson has returned again and again to the beauty of Calvin’s thought. For her, Calvin’s much-maligned doctrine of total depravity actually shows how loving God is: Despite our weakness and sinfulness, God loves and sustains us at every moment. Total depravity, Robinson argues in an introduction to Calvin’s writings, is really about God’s unfathomable condescension: “It is as if we were to find a tender solicitude toward us in the fact that the great energy that rips galaxies apart also animates our slightest thoughts. It is as if we were to propose that that great energy only exists to make possible our miraculously delicate participation in it.”

This “tender solicitude,” Robinson writes, is “continuous, unmediated,” and directed at “individual consciousness.” Robinson is firmly Protestant in taste: she told me she prefers Milton to Dante, Augustine to Aquinas. I suspect that this is because of Protestantism’s focus on the individual believer and his or her direct access to divine grace. God, Robinson writes, is “at the very center of individual experience and presence.” Robinson finds herself most moved by those thinkers who take individual experience most seriously.

Faith, Robinson argues, is a “great, continuous instruction in perception itself,” and to perceive correctly is to see “that the beauty that floods our senses has the meaning of vision and revelation.” Robinson is a realist, but she’s a visionary realist: a writer who senses that the real—the world we experience in our bodies and in our consciousness—is awash with divine meaning and intention.

ROBINSON WAS BORN IN 1943 in Sandpoint, Idaho, a world of mountains and lakes that continually reminded her of her own smallness: in such a landscape, she writes in “Psalm Eight,” she seemed “a mote of exception, improbable as a flaw in the sun.” In the early 1960s, she attended Pembroke College, then the women’s college at Brown, where she worked with John Hawkes—a writer whose postmodern fiction could hardly be more different from the novels Robinson would go on to write. She then studied for a PhD in English at the University of Washington. Unsurprisingly, she chose to write on an unfashionable text: Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II.

While researching and writing, Robinson started jotting down metaphors on scraps of paper. “After I had finished my dissertation,” she told the Paris Review, “I read through the stack of metaphors and they cohered in a way that I hadn’t expected. I could see that I had created something that implied much more.” That much more was Housekeeping. Robinson began working in earnest on the novel and, in 1981, it was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It is one of the most astonishing debuts in recent literary history.

Housekeeping tells the story of Ruth, a fierce, lonesome girl raised by a series of female relatives in the town of Fingerbone, Idaho. From its first words—“My name is Ruth”—Robinson declared her epic ambitions: to write a female Moby-Dick of the American West, exploring the bonds of community and the lure of isolation, the visionary nature of perception and memory.

At first glance, Housekeeping doesn’t look much like a traditional religious novel. The work seems unconcerned with theology, and Ruthie doesn’t go to church. So it isn’t surprising that critics paid more attention to the work’s wild metaphoricity than to its metaphysical roots. Housekeeping is Christian like much of nineteenth-century American writing was Christian: in its Calvinist oscillation between despair and ecstasy, in its regular recourse to images of death and resurrection, in its sense that what we see is, in Ruth’s words, “a sheet dropped over the world’s true workings.”

Robinson’s second novel, Gilead, did not come out until 2004, twenty-three years after Housekeeping. Despite the gap, Robinson was hardly idle during this time. In 1991 she joined the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she still teaches today. It’s a rich irony that Robinson, who has said she doesn’t read much contemporary fiction besides the work of her students, has helped shape so many promising young writers, including Paul Harding (author of Tinkers), Chris Adrian (The Children’s Hospital), and Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams). Robinson told me that teaching has given her a renewed appreciation for writing’s many difficulties: “I have learned as much respect for the writers who, to all appearances, fail to master the art as for the ones who excel in it. It is simply so difficult to do, and they are all so exposed in making the attempt.” In between her first two novels, Robinson also wrote two exemplary works of nonfiction: a collection of essays, The Death of Adam, and a polemic against Britain’s disposal of nuclear waste, Mother Country. But she didn’t publish any fiction, and so Gilead was received with intense expectation.

Gilead puts the lie to those critics who say that contemporary fiction doesn’t engage seriously with religion. It shows how Christianity is both a lived practice and a system of belief, a deposit of artistic riches and an endless source of intellectual exploration. The novel’s language is soaked in voices from Christianity’s past: Augustine and Donne, Herbert and Hopkins, Bonhoeffer and Barth. Here is its opening sentence:

I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.

We soon learn that the time is 1956, that the speaker is an elderly Congregationalist minister named John Ames, and that Ames is speaking to his seven-year-old son. More precisely, he’s writing to his son: Ames, seventy-six years old, knows that he will not see his son grow up and so decides to put his thoughts down on paper. The novel is, in the old sense of the word, a reckoning: an account of Ames’s life as a preacher in Gilead, Iowa, of his Christian faith, of his early widowhood and late rediscovery of love, and of the ways history has touched him and his family. (Ames’s grandfather was a radical abolitionist in the Civil War, his father a pacifist during World War I.)

Gilead is a startlingly beautiful novel. On almost every page, you find yourself marveling at how inevitable and right each sentence sounds, at Robinson’s exquisite control of cadence and imagery. Beyond its stylistic brilliance, Gilead makes a fundamentally good man seem interesting, and part of what makes Ames so interesting is his willingness to talk intelligently about matters of faith—in particular, his willingness to talk about the sacraments.

When I asked Robinson about the sacraments, she said that they were “a little hard to write about.” Despite this difficulty, Ames does it well. Here he remembers an incident from his childhood, when he and some friends baptized a litter of kittens:

I still remember how those warm little brows felt under the palm of my hand. Everyone has petted a cat, but to touch one like that, with the pure intention of blessing it, is a very different thing. It stays in the mind. For years we would wonder what, from a cosmic viewpoint, we had done to them. It still seems to me to be a real question. There is a reality in blessing, which I take baptism to be, primarily. It doesn’t enhance sacredness, but it acknowledges it, and there is a power in that. I have felt it pass through me, so to speak. The sensation is of really knowing a creature, I mean really feeling its mysterious life and your own mysterious life at the same time.

In this passage, we have both a description of sacramentality and an enactment of it. If, for Ames, to bless is to acknowledge creation’s mysterious life, then Robinson here blesses her readers: we are left with a sense of wonder before the world’s splendor. Robinson wrote to me that the sacraments “are an utterance above language, the kindest deed ever done, the purest gesture of love ever made.” Robinson, through Ames, gets close to capturing in language the mystery and majesty of baptism.

GILEAD EMBODIES ROBINSON’S aesthetic of wonder—her sense that humility before the vastness of the world and our experience of it is the proper attitude for the artist to take. Robinson’s moral and imaginative vision could serve as a gloss on the opening of Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

For Robinson, if creation is wondrous, it is no less wondrous that we are able to appreciate it. I asked her about the relationship between beauty and pain in the Christian vision, and she responded:

The life and death of Christ are addressed precisely to the fact that beloved humankind are, in greater and lesser degrees, sad and erring creatures, often enough bitter and mean-spirited creatures. Yet here is brilliant Creation shining all around us, and here are our own brilliant gifts of thought and perception to let us enjoy it and celebrate it.

Thought and perception are gifts because they allow us to appreciate the giftedness of all creation.

For Ames, there is a connection between the work of the mind and the work of the soul. “For me writing has always felt like praying.” Memory becomes a religious faculty, too: “Sometimes the visionary aspect of any particular day comes to you in the memory of it, or it opens to you over time.” Nowadays we are often reminded that memory is a flawed instrument, prone to errors of omission and distortion. Gilead makes a subtler argument: yes, memory is imperfect, but it’s nevertheless the best instrument we have for exploring the richness of our experience. The mind is continually re-examining the past, looking for new aspects of old events, finding significance in neglected details. Robinson told me that “among the twentieth-century poets Wallace Stevens is the one I return to” most often. Gilead shows that, as Stevens puts it, “It can never be satisfied, the mind, never,” and this endless curiosity is, to use one of Ames’s favorite words, remarkable.

If writing/remembering is a kind of intellectual prayer, then gracefully moving through the world is a kind of bodily prayer. We see this everywhere in Gilead, from Robinson’s loving descriptions of a young boy’s game of catch to Ames’s delight in preparing grilled-cheese sandwiches. Because of his own weakening body, Ames is better able to appreciate the pleasures of effortless physical exertion, and better able to recognize in physical grace a suggestion of divine grace.

THIS ANALOGY BETWEEN physical and divine grace is even more important in Home, Robinson’s 2008 follow-up to Gilead. Home centers on the same town at the same time, but it takes as its main character Glory Boughton, the daughter of Ames’s best friend and fellow preacher, the Rev. Robert Boughton. Glory makes a brief, inconspicuous appearance in Gilead; in Home Robinson shifts her to the center, and this decision makes an aesthetic and theological point. Every character, Robinson suggests, is both a potential fictional protagonist and a being that has been created in the image of God. (This argument receives further support in Lila, which once again approaches the same story from a different angle—this time from the perspective of Ames’s young wife.)

Home is a sadder, more restrained book than Gilead. It’s less brilliant, but it’s after something other than brilliance. Glory hasn’t led a particularly happy life. After a failed relationship, she’s thirty-eight and living again in her childhood home. Though intelligent, she is not as brilliant or well read as Ames. Besides, she has other concerns: throughout the novel, she’s dealing both with her father’s failing health and with the many frustrations associated with her mischievous, occasionally mean brother Jack, who has just come back to Gilead after years spent elsewhere. The central question of Gilead is: How can we make our love felt when we are no longer around to express it? The central question of Home is: How can we make our love felt when we are there to express it, but those we love do their best to escape or frustrate us?

For Glory, the way to grace is through hospitality, through caring even for those who resist her care. Especially for those. Glory tends to her father’s dying body and to her brother’s broken spirit. The most seemingly banal activities—cooking dinner, bathing her father—become ways of acknowledging the sacredness of this world and of her difficult family.

In Gilead, the physical world is shown to be a sign of God’s grace in scenes that could come from a Terrence Malick movie: light shines through a window onto an old church floor; water falls from a tree after a brief rain shower. But in Home, Robinson sees the domestic sphere, the world of cooking and cleaning and eating and mending, as a way into the imaginative and religious sublime. In one remarkable scene, Glory cuts her father’s hair:

So she clipped and trimmed, making more work of it than it was in order to satisfy him that some change had been accomplished, combing it down a little with water so he would feel sleek and trim. The nape of his neck, the backs of his ears. The visible strain of holding the great human head upright for decades and decades…. At the end of so much effort, the neck seemed frail, but the head was still lifted up, and the ears stood there, still shaped for attention, soft as they were. She’d have left all the lovely hair, which looked like gentle bewilderment, just as the lifted head and the ears looked like waiting grown old, like trust grown old.

In Gilead, Ames writes that grace is “a sort of ecstatic fire that takes things down to essentials.” Home shows that grace works not just in the ecstatic but in the ordinary—in the daily tasks of living for and loving one another. Or, as Robinson wrote to me, “If hospitality is an essential Christian value, then the smaller hospitalities we give to our families are only more essential. I do think that the means we are given to please and nourish and comfort bear a more than accidental resemblance to the means of grace.”

Robinson’s novels seldom end where we think they will, or even where we hope they might. In Housekeeping, Ruth burns down her house and her old life with it, leaving whatever minimal comforts of domestic life she may have experienced and joining her aunt Sylvie in a tramp’s life. On the final, stunning page of Gilead, Ames writes, “I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep,” followed by silence. We don’t know if he has died or just become too weak to write, and we don’t know what will happen to his young wife and son. In Home, Jack leaves Gilead, just missing his father’s death and a longed-for reunion with his beloved, and Glory is left alone.

ROBINSON TOLD ME THAT “it seems excessively fictional to really ‘end’ a story,” adding that she feels that her “novels end themselves—that after a certain point they begin to close themselves against me, so that any invention that might prolong them would be an imposition.” And yet the story Robinson first told in Gilead has reopened itself twice, first in Home and now in Lila. The new novel is, once again, piercing and beautiful, but in a very different way. Lila’s life before Ames was rough from the very beginning, as we learn in the book’s first sentences: “The child was just there on the stoop in the dark, hugging herself against the cold, all cried out and nearly sleeping. She couldn’t holler anymore and they didn’t hear her anyway, or they might and that would make things worse.” Soon Lila will be rescued—kidnapped, technically—by a loving drifter named Doll.

Over the years, Doll and Lila move throughout the country, hunting after day labor and moving on when money and work dry up. They find solace in physical work and in the makeshift community that arises among the downtrodden: “She liked to hear people tell stories. The saddest ones were best.” It’s almost as if Robinson has shown us what the future of Ruth and Sylvie from Housekeeping might actually look like.

Lila’s settings are harsh (a St. Louis brothel, an abandoned house on the outside of town), as are the narrated events (abandonment, murder). The novel is written in the third person, but it’s an extremely close third person, with Lila’s mode of speaking and thinking continually inflecting the narrative voice. Unlike Glory and certainly unlike Ames, Lila is uneducated, and she alternatively laments and celebrates the fact that she doesn’t have the words to describe the world as it appears to her. Here is an example of the kind of simple language that Lila presents:

It was still early enough that Lila had to pound on the shop door. She was so desperate to get out of the dress she was wearing, it didn’t matter what she found there if she just had the money to pay for it. And then the woman said to her, when she had taken a look at her, tried to get a look at her face, So what happened? You had a baby? Lila said, No, I didn’t, and the woman studied her sidelong, the blood on her skirt where it showed below the hem of her coat, on her shoes, thinking she knew better, and said, Never mind. None of my business.

Gone are Ruthie’s ecstatic visions, Ames’s gentle melodies, Glory’s biblical cadences. Instead, we have Lila’s wounded and enduring voice.

If Gilead was about sacrament and Home about hospitality, then Lila is about the meaning of affliction. It harrows rather than enraptures, and because of this Lila makes for less pleasurable reading than either Gilead or Home. Reading Lila’s account of her courtship with Ames—how she deliberately met his kindness with Jack-like meanness, how she considered running away even when pregnant—makes you realize how much Ames edited out of his own account. This forced recalibration can be disturbing, like the moment when you realize that your parents are imperfect, that they have baggage and weaknesses all their own.

Yet even amid the pain, Lila provides scenes in which grace shines through. The final pages, where Lila gives birth during an Iowa snowstorm, are as strange and powerful as anything Robinson has ever written. That scene and the novel as a whole recall a passage from Gilead:

Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as an only child, and that has to be true: “He will wipe the tears from all faces.” It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.

The Lord’s comfort, Ames suggests, doesn’t erase the sorrow we’ve felt. Rather, it acknowledges it and makes it bearable. At some mysterious level, it even makes it beautiful. Lila dramatizes this truth.

For some time now, Robinson has been our most singular writer, defying contemporary trends and carving out her own distinctive place within American literature. Reading Lila alongside Housekeeping shows just how varied Robinson’s achievement has been: she’s written about the plainness of Iowa and the wildness of Idaho, created one voice that echoes Herbert in its plain grandeur and another that rivals Dickinson in its imaginative extravagance. But there is a unity to all of Robinson’s work, and this is part of what makes her so great. Her writing expresses a consistent and compelling vision of the world—a vision that sees the real as revelatory, the everyday as wondrous, Spokane as leading to Galilee.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, November 04, 2014

‘We can hold that diversity’

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Leigh Anne Williams

 

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said he was encouraged by the commitment expressed by the bishops at their recent meeting. “We are not going to agree on everything but we can do that in a way that doesn’t fracture the body.”                                                           

Photo: Leigh Anne Williams

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When the House of Bishops met at the Mount Carmel retreat centre in Niagara Falls, Ont., from Nov. 17 to 21, the agenda included discussion of some big issues—the controversial proposed amendment to the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage, end-of-life issues and the role of the house itself in the church. They also discussed a call from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) for the church to allow room for new governance structures that would align better with aboriginal approaches to decision-making.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal after the meeting, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, acknowledged that “within this meeting and this house and this church, there’s a huge amount of anxiety” about the proposed amendment to the marriage canon. But at the end of their meeting, Hiltz said that he felt encouraged by the tenor of the bishops’ discussions.

Bishops Stephen Andrews (Algoma), William Anderson (Caledonia), Michael Hawkins (Saskatchewan), Michael Oulton (Ontario) and Melissa Skelton (New Westminster) were nominated to form a committee to guide their peers through new discussions of the marriage canon issue, which will culminate at General Synod 2016 when a resolution on the amendment will be considered.

While discussing what the role of the House of Bishops should be in the church, Hiltz said that the bishops used an aboriginal-style circle to share what each was feeling and their hopes for the house. He said that he was encouraged that so many spoke of their commitment to be a part of that body. There was “a recognition pretty much around the circle that, of course, we are diverse. We are not going to agree on everything, but we can do that in a way that doesn’t fracture the body and allow partisan strife to go too far,” he said. “We can hold that diversity and hold it well.”

Hiltz said he thought bishops ended that discussion with “a sense of deeper peace, some renewed clarity of purpose and some renewed vigour for exercising that leadership role for which we know we are ordained.” He explained that it feels to many of the bishops that they have spent quite a long time attending to their relationships within the house and they now feel urged by the spirit to focus their attention outward and to lead the church in the myriad of issues confronting it—“everything from evangelism to congregational development to medically assisted dying to poverty in Canada, the crisis in indigenous communities.”

The bishops discussed end-of-life issues and medically assisted dying, and Hiltz said he aims to work with other bishops and a task force to produce a statement on the issue before the Supreme Court of Canada releases a ruling on the issue, which is expected sometime this spring.

National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh made a presentation to the bishops on behalf of ACIP, which pointed out that the top-down style of church governance does not fit well with aboriginal ways of decision-making. The document called on the church to allow room for new structures that would be a part of a self-determining indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada.

Hiltz said responses from the bishops were similar to those from members of the Council of General Synod who heard the presentation at their meeting on Nov. 16, with “everything from goodwill to fear about what are the implications long-term.” But he noted that there was little time for discussion and bishops felt they needed time to digest the document. MacDonald invited the bishops to respond directly to ACIP leaders, and Hiltz suggested that discussion at provincial synods might also provide useful feedback for what ACIP members said is still a work in progress that will be shaped by their consultations with various groups in the church.

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Anglican Journal News, November 24, 2014

Primate’s commission sees long road ahead

Posted on: November 22nd, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Leigh Anne Williams

 

The Rev. Andrew Wesley offered CoGS members some insights into aboriginal spirituality. He and Archbishop Terence Finlay (right) gave a briefing about the work of the Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Reconciliation and Healing.  Photo: Leigh Anne Williams


Mississauga, Ont.
On Nov. 15, Archbishop Terence Finlay and the Rev. Andrew Wesley updated the Council of General Synod (CoGS) on the work of the Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Reconciliation and Healing.

The commission, created on the recommendation of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), is looking for ways to put General Synod’s 2010 repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery into meaningful action, to move forward with the work of reconciliation and to address ongoing injustices faced by indigenous communities in Canada.

The 17-member commission held its second meeting at St. Peter’s Church on the Six Nations Reserve in southwestern Ontario from Nov. 6 to 8, welcoming Janaki Bandara from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to the commission.

Finlay and Wesley reported that the commission began to develop a theological reflection on the Doctrine of Discovery, its continuing impact and ways that it might be dismantled. Secondly, members discussed “what reconciliation looks like in parishes and communities, particularly around the understanding of healing and wholeness and the Circle of Life,” which Wesley explained is a part of the teachings of the medicine wheel. Thirdly, they explored how the quality of life in indigenous communities could be improved by understanding the nature of treaties and the Indian Act, an act that he said “crippled the aboriginal people” after it was passed in 1951 and became law.

The commission discussed the importance of grassroots contributions. Responding to questions and comments from CoGS members, Finlay said he is “continually amazed” by how much the Doctrine of Discovery is a part of the non-indigenous way of life. “If you can identify ways in which you see that, please write them down and let us have them because those are signposts for us,” he told them.

Finlay said that the group recognizes that they will be able to offer only an interim report to General Synod 2016 because of “the immense breadth” of the three subjects they are studying.

At the end of the presentation, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said he rejoiced that ACIP gave the church this direction, since the term of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) will end in June 2015.   “I think that we can say, not in a boastful kind of way…but in a good way, that our church has a plan in terms of its commitment beyond supporting the mandate of the TRC.”

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Anglican Journal News, November 21, 2014

ACIP calls for change in church structure

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

The Ven. Sidney Black, the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald, and Judith Moses from the Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice Coordinating Committee at Council of General Synod. Photo: André Forget.


Mississauga, Ont.

On Nov. 17, representatives of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) presented a statement to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) calling for the church to allow space for structures of governance that are more in line with indigenous ways of thinking about leadership and power, and to support the movement of indigenous Anglicans toward self-determination.

The statement suggests beginning a process of consultation to develop a plan for indigenous ministry in the whole church, not just in particular regions like Mishamikoweesh, and to develop “an effective, just, and sustainable” plan to share resources, stating that “it is now time for Indigenous People to be given the primary leadership over the planning, use, and accounting of their own resources.”

The statement, titled “Where We Are Today: Twenty Years after the Covenant, an Indigenous Call to Church Leadership,” expresses gratitude for the “great progress towards Indigenous self-determination in the past few years” while noting the extent to which indigenous people are “still hindered by the effects and structures of colonialism.” The statement outlines some of the principles undergirding indigenous self-determination and the steps that should be taken toward implementing them.

It was presented jointly by ACIP co-chair Archdeacon Sidney Black, Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, indigenous ministries co-ordinator, the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald.

In the 20 years since indigenous Anglicans extended “a hand of partnership” to the non-indigenous members of the church through the Covenant of 1994, some progress has been made, said the statement. The creation of ACIP, the creation of the position of National Indigenous Bishop and most recently the creation of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh have all been steps toward building, as the Covenant says, “a truly Anglican Indigenous Church in Canada.”

But while steps have been taken, the journey is incomplete, said ACIP. The statement identified leadership structure as one of the key issues that need to be addressed. “Our natural cultural structures spread authority out among the people and generations, on a level ground,” the statement said. “This is in contrast to Western models—familiar to us in our relationships with both the government and the church—which are vertical and top-down.” It goes on to point out that such structures have been deeply problematic for indigenous people throughout history and to the present day. “[These structures] are disruptive, in many ways, to our natural way of doing things. The structure of the Church often is in conflict with the way our societies are structured.”

Another concern expressed was the way in which funds allocated for indigenous ministries have been used. The Anglican Church of Canada, the statement said, “must make a careful evaluation of the ways that money has been spent in the name of Indigenous ministry, historically and in the present,” going on to point out that a great deal of money has been raised “in the name of serving Indigenous Peoples,” and consequently indigenous Anglicans “desire to see these resources used in the very best, just, and appropriate way.”

The statement also expressed concern about how the Council of the North (CoN), which is composed of nine financially assisted dioceses in the North, and similar institutions were serving indigenous peoples. The statement described such institutions as “divided in their vision by their various diocesan concerns” and “[led,] for the most part, by non-Indigenous leaders and Western governance models.” Because of this, “those structures that have been developed to express Indigenous points of view…are almost all subject to the patterns and oversight of a very different and often problematic pattern of leadership,” it added.

The bishop of the diocese of Saskatchewan and chair of the CoN, Michael Hawkins, was not present at CoGS. When the Journal contacted him, he had not yet had a chance to read the statement.

Throughout the statement, ACIP put great emphasis on “placing the Gospel in the centre of the Sacred Circle” and of walking in fellowship alongside non-Indigenous Anglicans through this process.

Following the presentation, the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, asked MacDonald to clarify the nature of the statement as a document in process, at which point MacDonald stressed that it was a “working document” open to input from many partners, including the Sacred Circle, the House of Bishops, CoGS and the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.

Bishop Larry Robertson, of the diocese of Yukon, was the first to share his thoughts during the question period, saying that the document offered him both “great joy” at the step forward it represents, and also a feeling that it will not be easy to let go of a ministry he has committed his life to. “I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said, “but I see this as the future.”

The Rev. Lynne McNaughton, clergy delegate from the diocese of New Westminster, followed Robertson by asking if more time could be allocated to a discussion of the statement in the afternoon, suggesting that members might need some time to process what they had heard and read.

When the session reconvened later, there were many questions, most of them reflecting both a significant amount of goodwill and a certain anxiety about the specifics of what moving forward would look like.

Jane Alexander, bishop of the diocese of Edmonton, expressed concern about the indigenous ministry in which she is involved in her own diocese and the appropriateness of diocesan leadership there in light of the statement’s comments about non-indigenous leadership structures. She suggested that at the next CoGS or the next General Synod a restructuring circle be put together, involving people from ACIP and General Synod, to look at how entities like the CoN could be refashioned to meet present needs and realities.

Deputy Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner, of the diocese of Western Newfoundland, noted that one of the problems for many non-indigenous Anglicans is simply a dearth of knowledge about how indigenous leadership structures work, and a need for non-indigenous Anglicans to learn more about indigenous ways of thinking.

For others, such as Bishop John Chapman of the diocese of Ottawa, a major question was how issues of doctrine would be dealt with, given that, as it stands, there is a hierarchical structure that oversees such matters. He also suggested that one of the biggest challenges non-indigenous Anglicans will face throughout this process will simply be “getting out of the way.”

MacDonald responded to these questions and concerns by telling CoGS that indigenous Anglicans are speaking from a position of vulnerability, and are aware that what they are saying may make people uncomfortable, but that “when we say we are brothers and sisters, we mean it—it isn’t just rhetoric.”

He also noted that when indigenous Anglicans speak of working horizontally and toward the circle, they want to work horizontally with everyone. “We’re already acting more like a circle than we were—in diocese after diocese, they’re relating to us as a circle. We don’t wish to vertically take over that process.”

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Anglican Journal News, November 18, 2014

An emerging new sense of Canadian identity

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

By Wayne Holst

 

This country’s First Nations people provide all of us with a foundation to help define what it means to be Canadian today. I have only gradually come to appreciate this, and invite you to join me in my discovery.

During the autumn season, members of our congregation have been reading Richard Wagamese’s recent book, Medicine Walk. In addition, we have been working through John Ralston Saul’s A Fair Country, and especially his section on “A Métis Nation.”

The first is a novel, a story in Wagamese’s Oji-Cree tradition, with some profound spiritual insights for the rest of us. The second is by one of Canada’s most fertile thinkers. It proposes that, “we are a people of Aboriginal inspiration, organized around a concept of peace, fairness and good government.”

Wagamese writes of a spiritual journey or “medicine walk” taken by a young native man who is in a quest to understand his ancestry. It is replete with redemptive characters and a strong message about the power of forgiveness.

In an indigenous manner, the author demonstrates his grasp of both native and non-native, Traditional and Christian spiritual ways.

Saul argues the need to replace the commonly understood term “order,” a word commonly associated with Canada, with what he believes are more apt and natural—peace, “fairness” and good government. This description grounds us in our aboriginal roots and distinguishes us from Europeans and Americans. He hastens to say that this does not necessarily make us better, only different and true to ourselves.

Many of us, I believe, are aboriginal wannabes—but what does that mean? We beat on drums, wear decorative native jewelry, decorate our living and working spaces with dream-catchers and medicine wheels. We adorn our museums, airports and embassies with magnificent coastal sculptures.

Some of these attractions smack of kitsch. But beneath the superficiality, for some of us at least, there is a genuine spiritual quest. We struggle as Canadians to define something from our common, formative heritage that has never been well understood. Indeed, it has been ignored or resisted. Yet it is very much there, incubating in the womb of our self-understanding.

I believe that a moment of new awareness is beginning to confront us. This perception has had to move through earlier stages of bicultural and multicultural definitions to a contemporary and more realistic “nation of minorities.” This identity with a fairness underpinning is offered us from our First Nations. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand have their indigenous groundings as well, but each nation is unique and that is what makes this whole endeavour so intriguing.

Both Wagamese and Saul are opening new windows of self-understanding and integrative imagery for us to consider. We are confronted with another way of seeing ourselves as Canadians. Each author is currently releasing new books that will hopefully expand on these ideas.  I, for one, sense a new paradigm opening to me, and want to journey with them.

Wayne A. Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinate adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church in Calgary.

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Anglican Journal News, November 18, 2014

Commission considers impact of proposed canon change

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Leigh Anne Williams

 

Commission clerk Bruce Myers and member Bishop Linda Nicholls at the Council of General Synod meeting in Mississauga on Nov. 15.   Photo: Leigh Anne Williams


 

Mississauga, Ont.

The Commission on the Marriage Canon’s final report will incorporate not only the submissions received from Anglicans across Canada, but will also reflect consultations about how changing the church’s law to allow for same-sex marriage might affect relationships within and outside of the Anglican Church of Canada.

“It’s clear that as we engage our conversation around this potential canon, it has implications for our relationships with others — our relationships across the Anglican Communion and our relationships with our ecumenical partners,”

Bishop Linda Nicholls, a member of the commission, told the fall meeting of Council of General Synod (CoGS) Nov. 15.  “And so we have sought deliberately consultation with those different groups.”

Of these consultations, “probably the one that would be most challenging is the Anglican – Roman Catholic conversation,” said Nicholls, who is co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada. She did not elaborate, but noted that the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada and the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue of Canada both met recently and began discussion about what it would mean if the Anglican church changed its canon to allow for same-sex marriage.  In a statement following their meetings Nov. 8 to 12, members of the Anglian-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada said they intend to continue the discussions on marriage and related ecclesiological questions and produce a statement for the Anglican Church of Canada’s consideration.

In recent years, same-sex blessings that have occurred in some Anglican/Episcopal churches in North America have hindered Anglican-Roman Catholic and other ecumenical dialogues at the international level. For example, from 2003 to 2005, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission suspended its activities as the Anglican Communion struggled with deep divisions over the issue of sexuality. In Canada, however, where Anglicans and Roman Catholics have been in conversations since 1971, both churches remained in dialogue amidst the same-sex blessings controversy.

Nicholls, who updated CoGS on the progress of the commission’s work, also said a particularly critical question facing the commission is how a change to the marriage canon would affect the conversations with indigenous peoples within the Anglican Church of Canada.  “This is a painful conversation and a difficult one for our indigenous peoples with our church for a variety of reasons, and we want to listen carefully to the concerns that our indigenous peoples have in relation to this,” said Nicholls. She noted that the structures of General Synod are very different from the way an indigenous community might begin to discuss an issue like this.

Commissioners met with National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh on Nov. 14, just as the meeting of CoGS was beginning and shared a written statement that included a perspective from Bishop Adam Halkett of the diocese of Saskatchewan. Nicholls said the commission was “still absorbing” contents of that statement and “deciding how best we can approach this.”

With regards to other churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) already allows ministers to perform same-sex blessings or marriages, and Lutheran members of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission have shared their experience, which has been “both painful in some areas and welcomed in others,” Nicholls said. Members of the Anglican United Church Dialogue have also shared their experience when the United Church of Canada made a similar decision, she added.

The commission has consulted with Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan in her role as the director of Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion. Barnett-Cowan is expected to take the question of how such a change would been seen to the International Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order when it meets in December and to send some comments back to the commission, said Nicholls.

She noted that the motion from General Synod 2013 asked CoGS to draft a resolution and delineate a biblical and theological rationale for amending the canon.

Meanwhile, commission chair Canon (lay) Robert Falby said that the commission is also looking at rationales for refusing to amend the canon. “They are included in the submissions that were made to us and they will be reflected in the report.”

“We also recognize that at some level, this is a no-win proposition,” added Nicholls. “Whatever we put forward, there will be those who are unhappy, in pain, struggling.”

The commissioners hope to produce a report that raises questions about the implications of changing the canon that General Synod needs to consider, said Nicholls. “They might be implications for our communion relationships, our ecumenical relationships, they might be implications for our theology… We want people to be able to see the whole picture.”

Nicholls also said that the commission’s final report to COGS would need to be in a form that can be used as a resource for the General Synod delegates in preparation for their meeting in 2016. “We want to produce a resource that is concise and readable for everyone… with full appendices and footnotes for those want more in-depth [information.]”

Falby said that although it was beyond their mandate, the commissioners are concerned about the process for dealing with the marriage canon issue at General Synod.  “We need to have appropriate consultation with indigenous people. We need to have this discussion in a manner where people can be heard, something of the nature of what we did in 2010 on the issue of blessing of same-gender unions,” he said.

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Anglican Journal News, November 15, 2014

Anglican-Catholic dialogues discuss marriage, physician-assisted suicide

Posted on: November 16th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Representatives of Canada’s Anglican and Catholic churches recently met for five days of diverse discussions characterized by candour and charity. The joint and separate meetings of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada and the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue of Canada took place November 8-12, 2015 at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

The discussions included the Anglican Church of Canada’s current discernment about expanding its canonical definition of marriage to include same-gender couples. In a spirit of broad consultation, the Anglican Church has invited the input of its ecumenical partners on this question, and the members of both dialogues engaged in a frank and friendly theological exchange. The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue will continue these discussions on marriage, as well as related ecclesiological questions, and produce a statement for the Anglican Church of Canada’s consideration.
The members of the dialogues also welcomed as a guest Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, the head of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. The Ordinariate was created by the Roman Catholic Church in 2009 as a means by which Anglicans or former Anglicans who wished to come into full communion with the Bishop of Rome could do so corporately, while still maintaining certain aspects of Anglican patrimony.
Monsignor Steenson outlined the Ordinariate’s development in North America and engaged in a candid and respectful dialogue about how different paths for Anglicans and Roman Catholics to fuller, visible unity may coexist.
In a related discussion, the members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue of Canada reviewed their pastoral guidelines on clergy moving from one communion to the other. They also explored what the two churches might be able to say in common about physician-assisted suicide, an issue that has resurfaced on the national agenda.
Next steps were also determined for a common witness project called Did You Ever Wonder… This series of video and textual reflections offers responses from our shared Anglican and Catholic traditions on some of “life’s big questions”.
The gathering included a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, which initiated the Roman Catholic Church’s involvement in the ecumenical movement and identified the restoration of the full visible unity of the church as one of its principle concerns. A liturgy celebrating the Decree’s anniversary was held at Saint James’ Cathedral in Toronto on November 9. It was attended by the members of both dialogue groups, by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, and by the Most Rev. Colin Johnson, the Anglican Archbishop of Toronto. The liturgy was followed by a presentation which included addresses by the Rev. Dr. Alan Hayes, Dr. Michael Attridge, and Dr. Harry McSorley.
The official theological dialogue between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Roman Catholic Church in this country (under the aegis of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) began in 1971. Four years later, a second bilateral dialogue was established between Canadian Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops. Both dialogues are dedicated to helping Canadian Anglicans and Roman Catholics become more aware of the existing high level of theological agreement our two churches already share, and helping them find ways to tangibly express that unity in mission together.

 

The members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada are:

Anglican

The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls (co-chair)

The Rev. Dr. Eileen Conway

The Rev. Dr. Kevin Flynn

Dr. Joseph Mangina

The Rev. Canon Dr. David Neelands

The Ven. Bruce Myers (staff)

 

Roman Catholic

The Most Rev. Donald Bolen (co-chair)

Dr. Catherine Clifford

Mr. Julien Hammond

The Rev. Dr. Raymond Lafontaine

The Rev. Alexander Laschuk

Mrs. Annette Hrywna (staff)

 

Ecumenical observer

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada)

 

The members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue of Canada are:

Anglican

The Rt. Rev. Barry Clarke (co-chair)

The Rt. Rev. Peter Coffin

The Rt. Rev. David Irving

The Rt. Rev. Michael Oulton

The Most Rev. John Privett

The Ven. Bruce Myers (staff)

 

Roman Catholic

The Most Rev. Gary Gordon (co-chair)

The Most Rev. Brian Dunn

Mgr François Lapierre, P.M.É.

The Most Rev. John S. Pazak, C.Ss.R.

The Most Rev. Albert Thévenot, M.Afr.

Mr. Kyle Ferguson (staff)

 

For more information, contact:

Mr. Kyle Ferguson

Advisor for Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

k.ferguson@cccb.ca

 

Archdeacon Bruce Myers

Coordinator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

Anglican Church of Canada

bmyers@national.anglican.ca

 

Les dialogues entre anglicans et catholiques discutent du mariage et de l’aide médicale à mourir

Des représentants des Églises anglicane et catholique du Canada se sont rencontrés récemment pendant cinq jours pour des discussions marquées au coin de la franchise et de la charité. Les réunions conjointes et séparées du Dialogue anglican-catholique romain du Canada et du Dialogue des évêques anglicans et catholiques romains du Canada ont eu lieu du 8 au 12 novembre 2015 au Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre de Mississauga, en Ontario.
Les discussions ont porté notamment sur le discernement que fait actuellement l’Église anglicane du Canada sur l’extension de sa définition canonique du mariage pour y inclure les couples de même genre. Soucieuse de procéder à une large consultation, l’Église anglicane a sollicité l’avis de ses partenaires œcuméniques sur cette question, et les membres des deux dialogues se sont engagés dans un échange théologique franc et amical. Le dialogue anglican-catholique romain poursuivra ces discussions sur le mariage, ainsi que sur des questions ecclésiologiques connexes, et produira un texte qui sera soumis à l’approbation de l’Église anglicane du Canada.
Les membres des dialogues ont aussi accueilli comme invité Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, qui est à la tête de l’Ordinariat personnel de la Chaire de Saint-Pierre. L’Ordinariat a été créé par l’Église catholique romaine en 2009 afin de permettre à des anglicans ou à d’anciens anglicans qui souhaitent entrer en pleine communion avec l’évêque de Rome de le faire collectivement tout en préservant certains aspects de l’héritage anglican.
Mgr Steenson a fait état de la croissance de l’Ordinariat en Amérique du Nord et a engagé un dialogue ouvert et respectueux sur la coexistence de différentes voies conduisant les anglicans et les catholiques romains vers une unité visible plus complète.
Dans une discussion connexe, les membres du Dialogue des évêques anglicans et catholiques romains du Canada ont examiné leurs directives pastorales respectives au sujet des prêtres qui passent d’une confession à l’autre. Ils ont aussi exploré ce que les deux Églises pourraient dire ensemble au sujet de l’aide médicale à mourir, un problème qui a ressurgi dans l’actualité au Canada.
Les prochaines étapes d’un projet de témoignage commun intitulé « Vous êtes-vous déjà demandé… » ont également été précisées. Cette série de vidéos et de textes de réflexion présente des réponses des deux traditions anglicane et catholique aux « grands problèmes de la vie ».
La réunion a souligné le 50e anniversaire de la publication du Décret sur l’œcuménisme du Concile Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio, qui a initié l’engagement de l’Église catholique romaine dans le mouvement œcuménique et identifié la restauration de l’unité visible complète comme l’une de ses priorités. Une célébration liturgique soulignant l’anniversaire du Décret a eu lieu le 9 novembre en la cathédrale Saint James de Toronto. Les membres des deux dialogues, Son Éminence M. le cardinal Thomas Collins, archevêque catholique de Toronto, et Mgr Colin Johnson, archevêque anglican de Toronto, étaient présents. La célébration liturgique a été suivie d’une séance publique avec des présentations de M. Alan Hayes, M. Michael Attridge et M. Harry McSorley.
Le dialogue théologique officiel entre l’Église anglicane du Canada et l’Église catholique romaine du Canada (sous l’égide de la Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada) a débuté au pays en 1971. Quatre ans plus tard, un second dialogue bilatéral a été institué entre les évêques anglicans et les évêques catholiques romains du Canada. Les deux dialogues permettent aux anglicans et aux catholiques canadiens de mieux comprendre le degré élevé d’entente théologique qui existe déjà entre les deux Églises, et aident les fidèles des deux Églises à trouver des façons de traduire cette unité doctrinale de manière tangible dans l’exercice conjoint de la mission.

 

Les membres du Dialogue anglican-catholique romain du Canada sont :

Anglican

Mgr Linda Nicholls (coprésidente)

Rév. Eileen Conway

Rév. Kevin Flynn

M. Joseph Mangina

Rév. chanoine David Neelands

Vén. Bruce Myers (membre du personnel)

 

Catholique romain

Mgr Donald Bolen (coprésident)

Mme Catherine Clifford

M. Julien Hammond

Père Raymond Lafontaine

Père Alexander Laschuk

Mme Annette Hrywna (membre du personnel)

 

Observateur œcuménique

Rév. Dr Matthew Anderson (Église évangélique luthérienne au Canada)

 

Les membres du Dialogue des évêques anglicans et catholiques romains du Canada sont :

Anglican

Mgr Barry Clarke (coprésident)

Mgr Peter Coffin

Mgr David Irving

Mgr Michael Oulton

Mgr John Privett

Vén. Bruce Myers (membre du personnel)

 

Catholique romain

Mgr Gary Gordon (coprésident)

Mgr Brian Dunn

Mgr François Lapierre, P.M.É.

Mgr John S. Pazak, C.Ss.R.

Mgr Albert Thévenot, M.Afr.

M. Kyle Ferguson (membre du personnel)

 

Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec :

M. Kyle Ferguson

Conseiller pour les relations ecclésiales et interreligieuses

Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada

k.ferguson@cccb.ca

 

Archidiacre Bruce Myers

Coordonnateur pour les relations œcuméniques et interreligieuses

Église anglicane du Canada

bmyers@national.anglican.ca

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 14, 2014

African Primates meet bishops of The Episcopal Church in search of transformation through friendship

Posted on: November 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

A meeting of five African Primates with bishops of The Episcopal Church took place at the General Theological Seminary in New York, from the 8th to the 10th of October, 2014. It was convened by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jeffert-Schori. The meeting, described as groundbreaking, is the first in over a decade where a group of African Primates have met with leaders of The Episcopal Church to discuss matters of mutual interest in doing God’s mission.

Severe disagreements have tormented the Anglican Communion since 1998, paralysing the Communion’s formal channels of engagement and bringing the global family perilously close to a breaking point. Tensions reached a peak in the events leading up to the Lambeth Conference of 2008. In June of that year a new movement called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) emerged in the Communion, threatening to derail the 14th Lambeth Conference. The movement quickly became a place of refuge for schismatic groups in The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Church of Canada. It would subsequently claim to be a global alternative to the Anglican Communion itself.

Since then, tensions have been gradually receding. We have seen a growing number of bishops and Primates around the globe reaching out to one another, seeking to restore good working relationships among themselves. Most of this has been happening through small groups of leaders meeting outside the formal structures of the Communion.

One such process is the Canadian initiative known as the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. The Consultations are a series of conversations involving mainly African and Canadian bishops but now also including bishops from the Church of England and The Episcopal Church. The group has met every year since 2010 and has become an ad hoc voice of reconciliation in the Communion.

At their most recent meeting in Coventry UK, participants called for more informal gatherings of this kind. “They recognized a new opportunity focused on rebuilding trust among leaders.” says Canon Kawuki Mukasa, Global Relations Officer for Africa in the Anglican Church of Canada. “The formal structures of the Communion are for the moment frozen because of the on-going disputes. The most promising way forward,” he says, “is through informal networks where leaders have the opportunity to discuss issues and build relationships unencumbered by the confining protocols of formal structures.”

The meeting of African Primates with bishops of The Episcopal Church in New York was in part a direct response to this appeal. They acknowledged the abundance of gifts in the churches they represent and confessed their profound need for one another in fulfilling God’s will in their respective mission fields. They framed their conversation in the context of human dignity, the sustainability of ministry and the care for the earth, and discussed a wide range of subjects that provide opportunities for fruitful collaboration and sharing of one another’s gifts. “We have made a conscious decision to walk together,” they said, “in order to go the distance.” In their message to the wider church, the group expresses their fervent and urgent hope for a second Anglican Congress (this time on the African continent) to provide a new vision for global Anglicanism in the same way that the first Congress influenced the last few decades.

The full text of text of the group’s communiqué may be found here.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 3, 2014