by Solange De Santis
[ACNS source: Anglican Church of Canada] Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon is withdrawing his offer of episcopal oversight to parishes in the diocese of New Westminster that do not agree with the blessing of same-sex unions.
"It is apparent to me that the way ahead in this regard is to allow a new process and … it is necessary for me to now withdraw," he wrote in a letter to the coalition of parishes called the Anglican Communion in New Westminster.
The "process" refers to a task force set up on October 31 by the house of bishops that will examine how to care for minorities who disagree with church policies. The task force, whose members have not yet been named, will report back to the spring bishops' meeting.
The letter, dated November 7, said that Bishop Buckle, who was not immediately available for comment, reached his decision "after much prayerful thought and reflection". He also wrote to the parishes that he had "attempted prayerfully to lead you this far, assisting you to remain in the Anglican Church of Canada, as requested". And he added, "I encourage you to stand strong together as you work through your response to the Canadian house of bishops."
Bishop Buckle's letter was released by Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon, at the regular fall meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS).
"I was just delighted" to receive the letter, said Archbishop Crawley in an interview. He said he left a telephone message for Bishop Buckle promising "to ensure the disaffected parishes are treated fairly."
Archbishop Crawley told the CoGS meeting that he will suspend disciplinary proceedings against Bishop Buckle, whose offer to parishes in New Westminster contravened Bishop Michael Ingham's authority and is illegal under church law.
The archbishop also said he had spoken with Bishop Ingham, who promised to seek a suspension of disciplinary proceedings against seven clergy in the diocese. Bishop Ingham recently announced that the diocesan chancellor had laid charges alleging disobedient conduct on the part of clergy and that he was investigating the charges.
Conservative bishop Donald Harvey of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador said he was "thankful" for the news. "It enables the task force of the house of bishops to do its work," and said that Bishop Buckle had not, to his knowledge, consulted with other conservative bishops before his decision.
A response from the Rt Revd Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster, can be found at the Diocese of New Westminster web site.