Assisted Suicide Legalisation Proves Divisive for Anglican Communion

From here:

A debate over legalizing assisted suicide for the terminally ill in the U.K. has unfurled in the Anglican Communion after a number of former Anglican archbishops backed a proposed bill, while the Church of England confirmed its opposition.

“Some people opine that with good palliative care there is no need for assisted dying, no need for people to request to be legally given a lethal dose of medication,” Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate, wrote for The Observer.

The assisted dying bill is set to be debated in the House of Lords on July 18th, and the Church has called for a public inquiry into the issue.

The bill would make it legal for adults in England and Wales with less than six months to live to be granted assistance in ending their own life.

The process would require two doctors to confirm that the patient seeking to terminate his/her life had reached the decision independently.

The briefing listed several reasons, including the ethical burden it places on doctors, for why the Church opposes the bill.

“Most doctors do not want to play a role in assisted suicide as the BMA and the Royal Colleges have made clear. If the Assisted Dying bill were to become law it would inevitably lead to ‘doctor – shopping’, a problem already encountered in jurisdictions that permit assisted suicide,” the Church wrote.

Anglican leaders have shown various viewpoints on the issue – while former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has said that he would support a bill that would allow assisted suicide in some cases, Justin Welby, the current Archbishop, has called the legislation “mistaken and dangerous.”

“The fact is that I have changed my mind. The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering,” Carey wrote in an article for The Daily Mail earlier in July.

“Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope,” he argued.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has some comments on Lord Carey’s support for this bill:

I yield to no one in my respect for Lord Carey and for the good things he has said and done, but I am simply amazed at his arguments (or lack of them) in support of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill for the terminally ill. Lord Carey says that he has changed his mind after encountering the cases of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb, who had severe paralysis but were not terminally ill. In what way do these cases support a Bill specifically for those with a life expectancy of six months or less?

The majority of those who are terminally ill want what Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, calls “assisted living” rather than “assisted dying”. This is what the Christian-inspired hospice movement seeks to do, enabling those nearing the end of their lives to prepare for a peaceful and good death. The fact that good hospice care is based on a postcode lottery is what should shame us, rather than not having our own answer to Dignitas in Switzerland.

Instead of concocting expensive ways of getting rid of those at their most vulnerable, I strongly believe we should be making sure that good hospice care is evenly available across the length and breadth of the country.

Rightly, Lord Carey has pointed out that where assisted dying (by any name) has been permitted, it has led to a widening of the provision beyond the terminally ill to those who are disabled, depressed or just tired of life. He says that it would be “outrageous” if assisted dying were to be extended to such categories in this country. But the cases on which he relies show precisely how the arguments will not remain for the terminally ill alone, but will be extended to others.

For these and other reasons, nearly the whole of the medical profession, experts in palliative care and disability groups are united in their opposition to this Bill.

It was a surprise to me to see Lord Carey’s support for this bill, as closely enmeshed in the culture of death as it is.  It starts off as misplaced compassion for those with deep suffering.  But it does not stop there.

Why is it that society so keen to kill the least of us, whether at the start or the end of life?  More importantly, how can Christians be in favour of this, particularly in this age when good palliative care is possible and could be made more available?  Is it just that, in this utilitarian age, those who are no longer useful to society should be culled?

This is not love, nor is there any dignity in what is being proposed.



Posted in Anglican Communion | 4 Comments

We have a new Archbishop!

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Foley Beach.  More info here.  The decision of the House of Bishops was unanimous!  Praise God, and pray for the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America..

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An interview with Bishop Don Harvey

Find the interview here.  David has comment here.  What I found particularly interesting is the fractured relationship with Wycliffe:

At one time here in Canada we could say Wycliffe College was ideal for them. It is not the case anymore. The college doesn’t like us. Our students are treated as second class students. I know these are explosive words, but I am willing to stand by them, because I have seen the evidence of them. I have been told that our students would be treated like anybody else. Their usual practice was that sometime during the course of the 2 or 3 years that a student was there, they would have their bishop come and spend a day with them, show them around, meet the staff, and what not. Usually that was planned for a day when there was Chapel with a sermon and the bishop would be invited to preach.

“That being the case,” I said, “does that mean that Bishop Charlie or I, one of us, would be given a chance to preach here, to walk in procession at your convocation?” And their reply was …? “No, I’m sorry. You couldn’t.” This from the college supposed to be favourable to us. If that is our friend, spare me from our enemies. Believe me, that is very sad. It’s sad because Wycliffe College was built on the very premises that ANIC exists on.

As to the general sense of exclusion, I can understand that’s going to be painful.  But not unexpected – we follow the One who was ultimately excluded, and as much as we follow Him we should expect the same treatment.  It’s a badge of honour.

But it is a real shame seeing Wycliffe making these choices.  And, at the end of the day, they are real choices.  If you stand still and do nothing, you are still making a choice.  I believe that sooner or later, all in the Anglican Church will have to decide; to make accommodation with the Church of the world, or to resist and pay the price.


Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Network in Canada | 2 Comments

Archbishop Robert Duncan’s final interview as archbishop

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North American Anglican bishops conning in Coventry

An interesting report which I have reproduced in full because it exposes so well the recent attempt to create a bogus aura of harmony between the irreconcilable opposites represented by liberal North American Anglican bishops and conservative African bishops.

By Andrew Symes:

In case we have forgotten, a very unpleasant court case was concluded around three years ago in Canada, when the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster won their battle to evict four parishes from their church buildings.The parishes in question were guilty only of standing firm for historic Christian faith, and refusing to go along with the radical revisionist theology of the Diocesan leadership. Going back further: in 2002 the New Westminster Diocesan Synod  had approved rites for the blessing of same sex relationships. After Gene Robinson was consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire (ECUSA) the following year, the fabric of the worldwide Anglican Communion was irrevocably torn, but despite patient efforts by global Anglican leaders resulting in various communiqués (for example the Windsor Report of 2004 and Dromantine Communique of 2005), the Anglican Church of Canada approved New Westminster’s actions, and continued with their push to fully approve same sex relationships.

Biblically faithful Anglican parishes in Canada who could not accept the  doctrinal and ethical innovations, and who wanted to continue with historic Anglican Christian faith, were left with no option but to seek alternative oversight from outside the Province of Canada. In New Westminster the Bishop began a programme  of aggressively pursuing “dissenting” parishes through the courts, seizing church buildings and bank accounts, and dismissing clergy and church wardens. The Bishop in question believed he was acting “prophetically”, being consistent with his own theological thinking, which also involved repeatedly denying key doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness of Christ. His name was Michael Ingham.

Last week the same Michael Ingham, now retired as Diocesan but still actively promoting his creed, was in Coventry with a delegation from the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the USA. They were here to promote…reconciliation. The thinking behind this is summarized in this report, as follows: The divisions that have occurred in the Anglican Communion have come as a result of pride, of certain people claiming that they are “orthodox” and correct in their understanding of theology and ethics, and that those who hold different views are wrong. In fact, while we may take different views on some interpretations of Scripture, and we may apply the Gospel differently in different contexts, essentially we are all one family; we believe the same things, and we simply need to spend time listening to each other in honest respectful conversation. Reconciliation can occur when as a Eucharistic community, Anglicans come together in commitment to each other and in mission to the world.

This sounds as wonderful as motherhood and apple pie, but there are at least two major problems with it. The first is theological. Treating another human being with respect and honour, a command which applies to all, cannot be confused and conflated with the profound unity that comes within the body of Christ among those who have been reconciled through the cross, by repentance from sin and faith in the crucified and risen Messiah. And humbly learning from a person who has very different philosophical, theological and ethical viewpoints, whether they are non-religious, from another faith or even within the same church, does not necessarily entail having to affirm that person as a fellow believer. A Christian can be committed to reconciliation and bridge-building in local communities and in society, while maintaining that certain theological positions are true and others false. The idea of a completely “inclusive” church is a contradiction in terms, as even the most liberal Christians have boundaries where they would wish to exclude from fellowship certain types of thinking which they consider to be incompatible with Christian faith. So a project of “reconciliation” which seeks to force recognition of those with totally different, even opposite understandings of Christian faith as part of the same body, is theologically and ecclesiologically incoherent.

The second problem is a simple one of history of recent conflict. The leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC not only split the church in their own land with their heterodox doctrines and aggressive litigation against their fellow Christians, but caused schism in the worldwide communion, costing incalculable time, money and effort and a terrible stain on the church’s witness. Yet it is they who now claim to be the messengers of reconciliation, as if they have done nothing wrong, as if all the conflict in the Anglican Communion comes from the GAFCON side. If they were able to articulate repentance for what they have done there would surely be a case for a new listening. But instead, we see these architects of schism coming to Britain to lecture on how to bridge divides and bring together parties who disagree.

The official report of the conference can be found here.

The liberal Canadian-American axis have brought to this conference delegates from different parts of the world, especially Africa. We know that most African Anglicans are conservative in their theology and would be suspicious of the revisionism of their fellow Anglicans in the West. Why did these participants come? There are three obvious reasons. First, some may have come into office since the days of the most bitter disputes resulting in the first GAFCON of 2008. Things have calmed down since then. The world has moved on; we have got used to gay Bishops and gay marriage. Secondly, money. It must be difficult to resist the offer of a free trip to England and a gift to your Diocese, especially if it is couched in terms of being part of a reconciliation project. But the third most compelling reason for these Africans taking part in this event was the presence of a very special delegate, yes, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. We are told that Justin Welby spent a day in Coventry in fellowship, worship and consultation about church unity with Michael Ingham and his friends, with their recent history of persecuting the orthodox and breaking the church. What is going on?

Just a few days before this conference, the House of Bishops released a statement about the forthcoming process of “Facilitated Conversations” in the Church of England, in which the focus shifts away from debating the theology and ethics of same sex relationships according to Scripture and tradition, to accepting both the conservative and revisionist points of view as equally valid (following the same trajectory as the Pilling Report). In other words, the Conversations should now be about building bridges, appreciating difference, creating unity in diversity – ie ‘reconciliation’.

Then, we see that Justin Welby participates in a consultation on “reconciliation” led and funded by those who began the process of splitting the Anglican Church more than 10 years ago, have continued with their beliefs and actions  and have never repented. But the report of the consultation shows a departure from Anglican theology and ecclesiology as traditionally understood. Instead of mission to the world based on the clear witness of the church to the Gospel of Jesus Christ revealed in Scripture, this new theology is about the church talking to itself about living together in peace despite profound differences, because the message of Scripture is apparently either unclear or not authoritative.

This must only strengthen the suspicion in many peoples’ minds that the process of Facilitated Conversations in the Church of England is being set up to reflect the “Indaba” or “Reconciliation” agenda modeled by North American liberal Anglicans. If this is the case, there can only be two possible results: either schism, confusion and further mistrust, or the C of E uniformly embracing a non-confessional stance which uncritically affirms the secular culture.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada | Tagged , | 3 Comments

ACNA College of Bishops open thread

ACNA are going to be electing a new Archbishop shortly – a job that all the wild horses in the world would not drag me to 😉  – so it’s fair to say that prayers for the right man to be elected would be a good thing.  Wisdom, courage and fortitude are all going to be needed to keep steering this ship in the right direction.

ACNA is still a new, immature organisation – this has its upsides and downsides.  What I’m well aware of though is that there are many different perspectives included in ACNA, some of which are antithetical to one another.  So the Archbishop is going to have his work cut out for him and he’s going to need your prayers.  For me, I’d hope that we’ll keep a strong focus on building His church and not get sidetracked into putting focus and energy into other issues.

Anyway, that was more of an intro than I intended to this open thread over at Stand Firm where they’re figuring out who is who prior to the election.  Some useful info there hopefully.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America | 3 Comments

It’s New Zealand’s turn

From here:

An Anglican pastor has quit the church and is taking his congregation with him after the governing body moved ahead with plans to bless same-sex relationships.

Charlie Hughes, the former vicar of St Michael’s in Henderson, says he cannot reconcile the decision of the church to recognise same sex relationships with his ordination vows.

He said the vows were a pledge to uphold the constitution of the Anglican Church. The constitution states it is “not lawful to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written”.

“It’s not because we have a problem with people who are in a same sex relationship but because of the commitment we have to shaping our lives around the teachings of the Bible,” Mr Hughes said.

“This isn’t an anti-gay issue. This is a pro-Bible issue. There are seven completely clear statements in the Bible about same sex acts which are all disapproving.”

Posted in Anglican Communion | 2 Comments

Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue meets in England

The Anglican Church of Canada participated in “gatherings [to] facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation.” What more could each side possibly need to know about each other’s “context”? The African approach is to interpret their “context” in the light of Biblical principles, Western Anglicans do the reverse.

Read it all here:

The fifth meeting of the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue takes place in Coventry, England from May 22 to 25, 2014. The Consultation brings together Anglican bishops from Africa and North America in hopes of building common understanding and respect.

Beginning in 2010, a rotating group of approximately two-dozen bishops from Canada, the United States, and a number of African countries, have met annually at locales around the world. Their gatherings facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation. Their time together in Coventry focuses specifically on “Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.”

This intentional dialogue was developed in response to theological controversies that strained relationships across the Anglican Communion in the early 2000s. These included issues relating to human sexuality and the blessing of same-sex marriages. In the face of pain and division arising from these controversies, Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Diocese of Toronto and the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, now Africa Relations Coordinator, spearheaded this important dialogue.

The bishops report this time together as one of powerful transformation and reconciliation. Kawuki Mukasa says that many at the table have grown tired of the tone of past discourse and that there is sincere interest in carving a new, respectful way forward. “There’s growing appetite for conciliatory voices in the Anglican Communion,” he says. There is also deepening appreciation that all who form this unique group carry out their lives and ministries as faithfully as they can in their contexts.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada | 4 Comments

Commission on the Marriage Canon

Apparently, those who are members of the ACoC  can submit their thoughts to the Commission on the Marriage Canon here.

I remember 10 years ago being told that it was all about the blessings, and marriage was not on the table, so it really wasn’t an issue. That of course was then, this is now.

Now we are to understand that the commission is completely open, transparent, not biased at all.

In a progress report to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) on the early work of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, chair Canon Robert Falby noted that there had been “some controversy” over the membership of the committee after it was announced in early 2014.

Critics have said that the commission does not have a balance of members who are both for and against the resolution passed at General Synod 2013, which asked CoGS to prepare and present a motion to change the church’s Canon 21 on marriage “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples” prior to the next General Synod in 2016.

In fact, Bishop Larry Robertson of the diocese of Yukon voiced those concerns to CoGS, meeting in Mississauga, Ont., on May 3. He said he spoke not only his own views but those of people in his diocese and beyond who brought their concerns to him because he is a member of CoGS. After confirming that a change to the marriage canon would be considered a matter of doctrine that would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority in all three orders at two consecutive General Synods, the bishop said he and several people who had come to him questioned the idea that the commission was balanced.

Falby replied that he was disappointed that Robertson didn’t think the commission membership was balanced. “I think it is,” he said. “At our initial meeting, one of the things the commission did agree on was that they have to keep an open mind on all of the issues and assess them all judicially.”

His understanding of the criteria used by the officers was that they “were looking for people who occupied the middle road, with perhaps opinions previously expressed on one side or the other, but not anyone who had taken on an advocacy role for one side or the other.”

Those who may come from an orthodox understanding of the Bible need not apply.

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Northern Ontario mission area also commented that there is no First Nations representation on the committee.  “Keep this in mind that the church and the Bible teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman…Our elders are very strong in that belief and they would like to see that continue, so please keep this in mind for our First Nations people, as they are part of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Falby assured her that the views of indigenous Anglicans are valued and added that he has already had a brief conversation with National Indigeous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald about how their input should be elicited and given to the commission.

I’m not taking any bets on how this process will go….

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada | 3 Comments

March for Life Ottawa, 2014

David has some great pictures  up here.

Breath of fresh air to see Anglican marching for life rather than pride.

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