An Anonymous Report on the recent General Synod
of the Anglican Church of Canada
NO ONE CAN doubt that the Anglican Church of Canada sails on her accustomed course. The General Synod just concluded has confirmed it, as it has the authoritarian stamp of its management. Some observers profess to have seen conservative stirrings and phrases in the ‘debates’. They also are happily surprised that the Synod resoundingly endorsed the 1997 House of Bishops Statement negating, for now, the blessing of same sex couples and the ordination of practical homosexuals.
But a Synod can only be judged by its results. While this one may have slowed down until after Lambeth the strenuous work of Bishop Ingham and his kind to push the lesbigay and pluralist agendas, that battle stands to be refought again. What can not be refought is the abandonment of the Common Prayer, the abandonment of the historic three-fold ministry and the transformation of the parochial clergy into salaried employees on very restrictive terms of service. These are all “done deals”. The centre has again shifted radically leftward.
The Synod was oddly nonchalant in making clear that the three-fold ministry was unimportant in the coming joining with the Evangelical Lutherans. With very little real debate the Synod overwhelmingly endorsed two new feminist Consecration Prayers which refuse to call God “Father” and which give full expression to the radical feminist drift of recent years. Perhaps more important than the particular errors of the Prayers identified by critics, from Adoptionism to the displacement of the Atoning sacrifice of the Cross, was the almost automatic acceptance of the idea that each internal group in the Church should have its own Eucharistic Prayer and Liturgy. Instead of a Consecration Prayer for the whole Church that reflects an attempt to read Scripture as a coherent whole, there will now be arbitrary readings of Scripture and arbitrary liturgies to serve extra-Christian concerns. This retreat from Common Prayer was highlighted by the insouciance with which the Evangelical Party was allowed to play with a third Consecration Prayer designed to respect the “Reformed conscience.” (Has anyone read the BCP Consecration Prayer lately?) it also reflected the modernist agenda when first presented. It was played about with on the floor of Synod in what one observer called “Eucharistic Theology 101” and emerged a regular mongrel affair. With its passage the Church now has 10 (TEN) Eucharistic Prayers and liturgy has become the plaything of the very lobbying techniques that have bewildered the civil polity of the nation.
Of immediate consequence is the new status of the clergy. In future a diocesan bishop will be able to restrict the activities of any priest geographically and by function; he will be able to impose any term or condition in a priest’s license, which is now a misnomer. The old idea of a license is gone! There is now simply a contract of employment imposed by a bishop. Can it be long before priests somewhere in Canada will be required to use the new feminist consecration Prayer? (It has already happened in that epicentre of the Communion – Newark! Can it be long before ‘gay’ priests are licensed for ‘gay’ ghettos and for no where else? Perhaps it will be some time, but the day is surely close at hand when priests will have to bend and abandon the Prayer Book liturgy, adopt the new hymn book and use the BAS methodically and fully.
Under the new Licensing Canon’s powers ostensibly taken to remove incompetent priests (known as “dead heads” apparently) are available to remove any priest for any reason, or for no reason at all. Once a bishop has determined to revoke a priest’s license – and there is no need for cause – the only question is the amount of compensation, to be settled by binding arbitration if bishop and priest cannot agree. An already cowed clergy will know that one step out of line from the bishop’s “expectations and guidelines” and they can be gone! So much for a stipendiary clergy! The bishops believe they have a litigation proof Canon. Time will tell!
The import of the Licensing Canon seems not to have registered with the clerical delegates to the Synod, or with the Essentials movement which should have had a strong interest in defending the independence of its own clergy, clearly a minority in the Church. But no – all seemed to fall for the siren call “Trust the Bishops.” Many of the clergy, but surely not their congregations also, will deserve what will undoubtedly befall them in due course.
The General Synod Church will be an orderly, obedient church all right, however many consciences must be squared and however many must suffer pour encourager les autres. There probably won’t be a need for much suffering the message will get through quickly enough.
Editor’s note For obvious reasons, the name of the delegate is not divulged. With the advent of the Licensing Canon, clergy must exercise due caution.