Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recently met with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and discussed the progress of developments in the Canadian church such as the Commission on the Marriage Canon and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).
“The archbishop was interested in where we are with the marriage canon matter, and in the interests of transparency I took a copy of the resolution from General Synod, the resolution from Council of General Synod giving the commission a mandate,” said Hiltz, who met with Welby on Dec. 17. “I gave him an update in terms of where the commission was at this particular moment, and that was as much as I could do. I think he appreciated that.” The commission is looking at a proposed change to Canon XXI to allow for same-sex marriage.
Reconciliation has been a major theme in Welby’s tenure at Lambeth, and Hiltz brought with him a copy of the timeline of residential schools put together by the Anglican Church of Canada. “I brought him up to date with where we are with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I spoke with him about the Primate’s Commission [on Discovery] and the work that it is mandated to do,” he said in an interview. Hiltz also stressed that the church is “well poised for continuing work in healing and reconciliation” beyond the TRC, which ends its term in June 2015. A major component of the 2007 revised Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, part of the TRC’s mandate is to gather the statements of former residential school students and others affected by the schools and to educate Canadians about the impact its impact.
Hiltz also met with officers at the Anglican Communion Office and at Lambeth Palace, and noted that the question of the marriage canon came up more than once. “There’s a bit of anxiety in the Communion about what might happen here and the fallout that might come from that.”
Hiltz also met with Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, about when and what the next primates’ meeting would look like. Hiltz said that although Welby had invited all primates to indicate support for a meeting, it was unlikely that there would be one before the end of 2015. The primates last met in 2011.
Hiltz also expressed hope that the next primates’ meeting would not be dominated by a single issue. “If we’re going to have a primates’ meeting, we need not ignore the same-sex marriage stuff, but we ought not to allow it to dominate,” he said. “The Archbishop himself said he wants to focus on prayer, evangelism and reconciliation.”
Another significant point of conversation was around the possibility of an Anglican Congress. “I think an Anglican Congress would be a great thing,” said Hiltz. “A Congress that was focussed around the church in and for the world could make for some very interesting conversations.” Although such a Congress would take some time to plan, Hiltz was optimistic about the effects it could have. He noted that the Anglican Consultative Council would have to be the driving force behind it. “It would take a lot of careful planning,” he said, “but I think it is time.” The last Anglican Congress was held in Toronto in 1963.
The primate has been making an annual trip to Lambeth for seven years now, with the exception of last year, when Welby visited Canada. The purpose for these visits, according to Hiltz, was to make sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury was, to use the primate’s own words, “hearing from the Anglican Church of Canada and not just about it.
Editor’s note: A correction has been made to the last paragraph where the word “from” became “form.”