license and registration, please

By Diogenes (articles - email) | Jan 11, 2008

The Anglican bishop of Labrador and Eastern Newfoundland has told his priests that they should resign if they are still loyal to his predecessor.

As you may have guessed, the issue here is homosexuality. Former Bishop Donald Harvey opposes same-sex marriage, and has led some clergy into a group that will not recognize openly homosexual Anglican bishops. Now Bishop Cyrus Pitman-- showing the tolerance of diverse opinions that is a hallmark of liberalism-- is calling upon those dissident clerics to turn in their ordination licenses.

(Ordination licenses? Don't ask me; I'm just relaying the news.)

Bishop Pitman also warns that roaming clerics should not be allowed into local Anglican churches. The foreign priests might not have the right attitudes, you see, and consequently “no one, absolutely no one, from another diocese or another province is to be asked to exercise any ministry in any of our parishes except by the direct invitation of the diocesan bishop.”

This conflict between a bishop and his predecessor raises some delicate questions, but Anglican leaders are ready:

The head of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, issued a letter earlier this week emphasizing the church has not yet changed its doctrine on marriage, but added there is federal legislation that allows for same-sex marriages.

Has not yet changed its doctrine; did you catch that? A doctrine is a proposition that is proclaimed to be true. It's awfully difficult to be persuasive in teaching that a certain proposition is certainly true, while at the same time telling people that the proposition might be changed. ("2 + 2 = 4. You can be absolutely sure of that-- for now. Check back with me next week.") It's even more difficult to convince people that they should base their moral decisions on the basis of this proposition that might soon be changed. ("Now go do your addition problems. I'll correct them next week.")

To be fair, I haven't read the statement by Archbishop Hiltz. It's altogether possible-- in fact it's most likely-- that he said Anglican doctrine has not changed, and a reporter slipped in that revealing word "yet." If that is the case-- if the archbishop said that the doctrine hasn't changed, and the reporter said that it hasn't changed yet-- whose statement was a more accurate reflection of current Anglican teaching?

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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