THE Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz, has protested strongly against a visit to Canada by the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Greg Venables, this week.
“Stop interfering in the life of this province,” are his blunt words to Bishop Venables, who is attending the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) conference in Vancouver.
In a letter issued on Monday after consultation with his House of Bishops, Archbishop Hiltz wrote that the visit represented “a breach in what is considered normative in protocol among Primates and Bishops throughout the Communion”.
The ANiC is headed by Bishop Don Harvey, who left the Anglican Church in Canada to be a bishop in the Southern Cone. He was joined by another retired bishop, the Rt Revd Malcolm Harding. Fifteen congregations are now under the jurisdiction of the Southern Cone.
At its meeting last week, the Canadian House of Bishops declined Bishop Harvey’s request for national-level negotiations over church property. Archbishop Hiltz wrote to Bishop Harvey that “any meetings need to occur with the appropriate parish and diocesan leadership.” His view is that neither the Primate nor the General Synod holds any title to property.
Nine priests and two deacons who have joined ANiC wrote to the Bishop of New Westminster, the Rt Revd Michael Ingham, on Monday, relinquishing their licences, but saying that they would continue their present parish ministries under Bishop Harvey’s licence.
In his letter to Bishop Venables, Archbishop Hiltz says that Dr Williams has reiterated his position that he cannot support or sanction “cross-provincial transfers of allegiance”.
Archbishop Hiltz writes: “I ask you as a brother Primate to stop interfering in the life of this province. This request is made in the interest of upholding the bonds of affection, and respecting catholic collegiality and provincial autonomy. I believe it is consistent with the ancient canons of the Church, and statements from successive Lambeth Conferences and the Windsor report.
“It is also consistent with the commitment that all the Primates, including you, made through the communiqué from the meeting in Dromantine in 2005. That commitment stated that the Primates will ‘neither encourage nor initiate cross- boundary interventions’. This commitment was repeated in the communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania in 2007.
“In light of these commitments, made by you and your fellow Primates, I specifically request that you cancel your visit to Canada.”
Bishop Venables was on his way to Canada on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. He told the Anglican Journal in a brief response earlier: “I don’t see any reason to call off the trip. I was invited to share with people who have already separated from the Canadian Church. I wouldn’t have done anything had they not already separated.”