Task force not keen to change primacy model

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Chateauguay, Montreal
The Primatial Review Task Force will not recommend a return to a model of primacy that existed before 1969, in which the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada remained a diocesan bishop after election.

After extensive consultations that included provincial synods, the task force found “very little support” for changing the “detached primacy model,” said task force chair Bishop Michael Ingham, of the diocese of New Westminster, in briefing the House of Bishops. The task force report will be sent to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) meeting in March.

The task force was asked by the 2007 General Synod to review the role, function and responsibilities of the primate, and to make recommendations about whether or not changes to Canon III (on primacy) are necessary. There had been suggestions to look at whether a primate could choose to remain in his or her diocese and continue to exercise the responsibilities of a diocesan bishop after being elected into office.

The task force will, however, recommend some changes to Canon III, among them a new section dealing with the sacramental ministry of the primate.

Bishop Ingham noted that since the primacy has no geographic jurisdiction, the primate has no specific sacramental function in terms of confirmation and baptism except by invitation of diocesan bishops. The proposed section retains the jurisdictional authority of diocesan bishops, but there is an “expectation” that they will extend an invitation for the primate to offer the sacraments of Eucharist, baptism, confirmation and ordination during pastoral visits across the church, he explained.

It is also being proposed that the primate have a “visible role” in the consecration of newly-elected bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, and acts as chief consecrator of the National Indigenous Anglican bishop and the Bishop Ordinary to the Armed Forces.

The task force will also recommend that it be part of the primate’s ministry to “speak and write prophetically” to the Anglican Church of Canada, and on behalf of the church, to the world, and that this be done in consultation with other leaders and governing bodies of the church.

“There’s a strong sense that the church wants to empower the primate to write and speak prophetically rather than just exercise pastoral leadership” in the church, said Bishop Ingham. This was in response to questions raised by the task force as to what sort of leadership is needed to enable the mission of the church.

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Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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