Canadian Primate's Statement on Anglican Consultative Council Meeting
- News release from The Anglican Church of Canada:
A statement on the meeting of the Anglican Consultative
Council from Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate
Toronto, June 30, 2005 -- What follows is a statement from Archbishop
Andrew S. Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, on the
recently concluded meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in
The Anglican Consultative Council met in Nottingham, England, between
Sunday, June 19 and June 28. There were a number of events and
developments that occurred at this meeting that I wish to describe
for you in this short report.
At its meeting this spring, the Council of General Synod considered
the request contained in the communiqué issued last February by
the Primates of the Anglican Communion that the Anglican Church of
Canada "voluntarily withdraw" its members from this meeting of the
ACC. After considerable debate, CoGS decided that we should send our
three members to the meeting, but that they should not participate in
the proceedings. According, Bishop Sue Moxley, Rev. Canon Allen Box
and Ms Suzanne Lawson attended the meeting in Nottingham as
CoGS also considered an invitation by the Primates that the Canadian
and U.S. churches make presentations to the ACC "to set out the
thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces" in the case of
our church, the blessing of same-sex unions, and in the case of the
Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA), the consecration of a
gay bishop. CoGS authorized me, in consultation with the Officers of
General Synod, to appoint presenters. Dean Peter Elliott, Prolocutor
of General Synod and Dean of New Westminster, Chancellor Robert Falby
of the Diocese of Toronto, Ms Maria Jane Highway, an indigenous
member of the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee and Rev. Dr.
Stephen Andrews, a member of the Primate's Theological Commission and
President of Thornloe University, subsequently agreed to be our
presenters. I also attended the meeting of the ACC for our
presentation and was the concluding speaker.
I wish to say to you categorically that all of the people who
attended this difficult and complex meeting - both our members and
our presenters - acquitted themselves of their tasks with remarkable
skill and dedication. Our members, sitting as non-speaking and non-
participating observers, faced a difficult, frustrating and painful
week; our presenters responded to the request of the Primates in a
lucid, thorough and transparent way. I was proud to be among these
people in Nottingham, and I believe you would have been as well.
These were not easy mandates for either group and it is hard to
imagine how either of them could have improved on what they did.
It is difficult to say what impact our presentation had. An evening
session that was to have carried this conversation further was
postponed. I can tell you that members of the ACC listened to us and
to our U.S. colleagues intently, and that there was considerable
applause at the end of our presentation. In the evening, the
Canadians hosted an informal reception which was well attended and
which gave members of the Council the chance to exchange views and
comment on our presentation. There was much positive feedback.
This was the extent of our formal participation at the Nottingham
meeting. The day after our presentation, however, a motion was
brought, without notice, requesting the Anglican Consultative Council
to affirm the Primates' request that we voluntarily withdraw from the
meeting, and further requesting us to withdraw from all activities of
the Anglican Communion until Lambeth 2008. That motion was debated at
a closed session. We were not present during the debate, we did not
participate, and we did not speak. We did not even hear the debate.
There is undeniably an issue of natural justice in this process. An
amended motion was eventually approved, affirming the Primates'
request and interpreting voluntary withdrawal from the Council to
include two committees - the standing committee, and the committee on
finance and administration. The amended motion carried by the
narrowest of margin. Had our members and our colleagues from ECUSA
voted, the motion would have failed. We do not have members on either
of those two committees, so the practical effect of the motion on us
There is much to reflect on as a result of this meeting. Having heard
our presentation and watched members of the council as our people
spoke, I hope and pray that we may have opened a window or two on
these difficult topics. I hope and pray that our presentation and the
presentation by our ECUSA brothers and sisters may have moved the
discussion along and perhaps even provided a slight impetus for the
discussion on sexual issues to begin in those parts of the Communion
where it has not yet begun. I am encouraged by these thoughts and by
these possibilities. I am also encouraged that the Council agreed to
the establishment of a "listening process" designed to collate
information on sexual issues from the different provinces and to make
these resources widely available for study and reflection.
For our part, our presenters made clear to the Council that we in
this country and in this church are still very much in the midst of a
conversation on this issue, a conversation that will be before the
next gathering of General Synod in 2007.
Between now and then, we continue to value the relationships fostered
by the worldwide Anglican Communion. We continue to be firmly
committed to our international partnerships with other members of the
Communion. We are full members of the Communion and we continue to
hope and pray that the Communion will emerge from this debate
stronger in Christian love and mutual understanding.
I want to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers during this
This report is by no means a comprehensive description of all that
happened during the meeting of the ACC. For those who wish to know
more, many of the documents and motions that were before the Council
are available on the web.
The Most Rev. Andrew S. Hutchison
Archbishop and Primate