Primate asks Venables to cancel visit

In this letter, written in consultation with the House of Bishops, the Primate asks Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, to cancel a planned, unauthorized visit to Canada.

April 21,2008

The Most Revd Gregory James Venables
Rioja 2995,1636 Olivos,
Province of Buenos Aires,
B1636DMG , Argentina

My Brother in Christ:

In this Easter Season I greet you in the name of our risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It has come to my attention that you will be participating in the Anglican Network in Canada conference, “Compelled by Christ’s Love” taking place in Vancouver, B.C., April 25-26,2008. Your visit to Canada is without any reference to or consent from my office or that of the Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster. This represents a breach in what is considered normative in protocol among Primates and Bishops throughout the Communion.

I brought this matter before the House of Bishops meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont., last week. While we recognized that your motivation may be pastoral, there was a strong consensus that your visit at this time will further harm the strained relations between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Network in Canada.

The Bishops believe that we have made adequate and appropriate provision for the pastoral care and Episcopal support of all members of the Anglican Church of Canada, including those who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the view of their Bishop and Synod over matters of human sexuality. This provision known as Shared Episcopal Ministry was approved by the House of Bishops in November 2004 and commended, in September 2006, by an international Panel of Reference appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. With this provision in place we believe there is no need for pastoral interventions by Primates or Bishops from jurisdictions outside of the Anglican Church of Canada. In fact such interventions are inappropriate. The Archbishop of Canterbury in a recent letter to me which was made public said he cannot “support or sanction” such actions.

I would also add that in a letter earlier this year to one of our Diocesan Bishops Archbishop Rowan Williams stated, “I am quite content to repeat that I do not endorse any cross-provincial transfers of allegiance, and that this office and that of the Anglican Communion recognize one ecclesial body in Canada as a constitutive member of the Communion, the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Representing a Province in communion with yours and all others in the world wide Anglican Communion 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.

I make this request with strong support from the House of Bishops. We believe it is in accord with the action of our recent General Synod (June 2007) in support of the Windsor Report. Our resolution made particular reference to that part of the report calling “upon those Archbishops and other Bishops who believe that it is their conscientious duty to intervene in Provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own to implement paragraph 155 of the Windsor Report and to seek an accommodation with the Bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.”

As I said in my Jan. 9, 2008 letter to all the Primates I am convinced that Canadian Anglicans are very committed to the highest degree of Communion possible in our life in Christ at home and throughout the world. Even as we grieve the breakdown of relationships within the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12-26) we are committed to prayer for reconciliation one with another in Christ.

I hope you will prayerfully consider and gracefully honour my request.

In Him I am

Sincerely yours

The Most Reverend Fred J. Hiltz,
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

Cc: The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Primates and Moderators of the United Churches of the Anglican Communion

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