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Bishops say rival group can't represent churches: economic downturn affects some dioceses.

Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Canadian house of bishops, at the end of its five-day spring meeting, issued a "Message to the Church," reflecting on a range of topics including mission, the effects of the current economic crisis in their communities, residential schools, and, in the lead up to the 2010 General Synod, same-sex blessings.

The bishops also stated "with regret" that clergy and laity who are members of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) "should not be given permission to exercise a leadership role in the Cursillo movement of the Anglican Church of Canada." (The ANiC includes clergy and laity who have left the Canadian Anglican church because of theological differences over sexuality and other issues.)

The bishops said they were responding to a "call for clarification" from the national Cursillo secretariat. "It was noted that diocesan bishops have the authority to decide who may serve on Cursillo teams," they said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury "has stated in writing that his office and the Anglican Communion Office recognize one ecclesial body in Canada as a constitutive member of the communion, the Anglican Church of Canada," they added. "We affirm this statement. We cherish our communion with the See of Canterbury and remain committed to the life and witness of the Anglican Communion in the service of the Gospel."

The bishops' discussions on same-sex blessings were held "in camera" (behind closed doors). The bishops merely stated in the message that they had "reviewed motions by General Synod 2007 concerning same-sex blessings." At that meeting, General Synod delegates voted to further study "whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a faithful, Spirit-led development of Christian doctrine." They also voted to study revising the marriage canon (church law) to allow Anglican priests to marry all legally qualified persons. Marriage for gay couples has been legal in Canada since 2005.

In an open session, the bishops were informed of an initiative to link some Canadian dioceses with some African dioceses for dialogue around the issue of sexuality. The links are being established by Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, co-ordinator for dialogue, ethics, congregational development and inter-faith relations for the Anglican Church of Canada's faith, worship and ministry department."

The bishops noted that the establishment of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) "has been delayed for a long time by both procedural and internal difficulties" and expressed "the strong desire that the commission's hearings can begin soon." They also noted concerns that the TRC hearings be "comprehensive and that they include former staff and all former students who wish to tell their stories." (Please see related story on page 1).

Several bishops indicated that the global economic meltdown has affected their dioceses. The bishop of New Westminster said his diocesan synod office laid off four of its 17 staff because its investment income was greatly reduced. Bishop Bill Anderson of the diocese of Caledonia mentioned layoffs in his diocesan office.

The bishops said they were "committed to encouraging our congregations to offer their prayers and every possible support to those affected by loss of employment and income." They also urged governments at all levels "not to lose sight of their commitment to the most vulnerable in society, including the working poor, women and children in poverty, and the homeless."

The bishops also received briefings by the department of philanthropy, youth ministry, the ministry of the Bishop Ordinary to the Canadian Forces, the 50th anniversary of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, and the Fresh Expressions Canada initiative that "presents the Gospel in a new context."

MARITES N. SISON

STAFF WRITER
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Title Annotation:HOUSE OF BISHOPS
Author:Sison, Marites N.
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:597
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