Canada: Venables licenses 30

01 May 2008

by Bill Bowder

Applause for Bishop Venables: a moment from the licensing service in Vancouver last Saturday ANIC

Applause for Bishop Venables: a moment from the licensing service in Vancouver last Saturday ANIC

MORE than 30 clergy received licences to serve in the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) from the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Greg Venables, on Saturday at a ceremony in South Delta Baptist Church, Vancouver.

The 29 priests and four deacons have left the Anglican Church of Canada and put themselves under the archiepiscopal authority of the Southern Cone because of the disagreement with the Canadian Church over homosexuality.

British-born Bishop Venables, who is 58, also commissioned two Canadian bishops: the retired Bishop of Brandon, the Rt Revd Malcolm Harding, and the former Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador, the Rt Revd Donald Harvey, who will be the Moderator of ANiC.

Despite a direct appeal to him from the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz, to stay away (News, 25 April), Bishop Venables attended the two-hour service at ANiC’s national conference at the weekend, with about 340 other participants.

Bishop Venables said in his sermon that it was time for the new church grouping to “get on with it”. “We have to do something. Once you have been called, you are involved. You have been commissioned, which means you are accountable.”

At a news conference during the meeting, Bishop Venables said that he believed that the Communion was “in the early stages of divorce”. “I think there comes a point when a marriage is no longer a marriage and you have to recognise it,” he said. “Maybe we can have an Anglican federation.”

The octogenarian Evangelical theologian Dr James Packer, told the conference that he believed he had been deprived, two days before, of his ordained ministry that he had held since 1952. That was “utterly tragic”, he said.

“God is preparing and toughening us for specially demanding conflict,” he said. The “principle of geographical exclusiveness” for the diocese and its bishop had been breached in a way that could not be restored. God was going to “purge the old West of its poisonous liberalism, which is weakening and shrinking the Churches. . . In a situation where, arguably, elected bishops become heretical, what is the divine answer to that? There must be the possibility for realignment for the faithful where heresy, doctrine and moral, is approved.”

US visit an “invasion”
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, wrote to Bishop Venables on Tuesday that his visit to a special convocation of the diocese of Fort Worth planned for this weekend “with the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone is an unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province”.

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