[Anglican Journal, by Matt Puddister] Mark MacDonald has resigned as National Indigenous Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada and formally relinquished his exercise of ordained ministry following allegations of sexual misconduct.
In a pastoral letter to the church, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said MacDonald had acknowledged the sexual misconduct. MacDonald’s resignation took effect 20 April, in accordance with the Church of Canada’s Canon XIX on Relinquishment or Abandonment of the Ministry. The primate confirmed to the Anglican Journal that there is no criminal allegation.
“This is devastating news,” Nicholls said in her pastoral letter. “The sense of betrayal is deep and profound when leaders fail to live up to the standards we expect and the boundaries we set. Our hearts hold compassion for human frailty and space for repentance while we also ache with the pain that such betrayal causes first to the complainant; then to so many others and to the life of our Church.”
The primate has asked Sidney Black to serve on an interim basis as National Indigenous Bishop.
Nicholls said the church’s prayers first and foremost must be for the complainant affected by MacDonald’s actions. “The betrayal of trust by someone in such a prominent role of leadership will require a long road of healing and our constant prayers,” the primate said.
She also asked the church to pray for Black and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples as they move forward to confirm the Covenant and Our Way of Life documents for Sacred Circle, the self-determining Indigenous church.
Finally, Nicholls invited Anglicans to hold MacDonald and his family in prayer.
“The ripple effects of this misconduct will be felt throughout the Church both in Canada and internationally, but most especially within the Sacred Circle and Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples,” Nicholls said. “We mourn with them. I trust that the good work that the Sacred Circle has initiated will continue to deepen and grow.”
A public announcement posted to the Anglican Church of Canada website reiterated the church’s commitment to workplaces “free from violence, coercion, discrimination, and sexual harassment”; that no one should be subjected to sexual misconduct of any kind; to deal “promptly, seriously and systematically with all complaints of sexual misconduct”; and that anyone who holds positions of trust or power in the church should not take advantage of or abuse that trust.
The statement cited A Call to Human Dignity, the declaration of principles adopted by the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod in 2001 for protection of parishioners and staff, as well as the Safe Church Charter of the Anglican Communion, which the Canadian General Synod adopted in 2019.