Bishops distressed by Bill 62

When I applied for a visa to visit China, before my photograph was taken I had to remove my glasses because they are photosensitive and were darkened from being in bright light. My wife had to make sure her ears were not obscured by her hair: the Chinese don’t want unidentified ears entering their country.

When we arrived in China, bleary-eyed and crotchety, we were photographed again by Chinese immigration. None of this was particularly distressing, although, admittedly, wearing glasses is more of a practical consideration than a religious observance.

Quebec’s Bill 62 requires people to uncover their faces while giving and receiving state services. Clearly, this affects niqab wearing Muslim women – or men, I suppose since gender is now fluid – more than anyone else. Showing one’s face to identify oneself before receiving a state service doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly unreasonable requirement. But it has distressed some Anglican bishops whose priority, having largely abandoned Christianity, is now one of defending Islam; when not marrying people of the same sex to each other, that is.

Here is the wail of distress by our Anglislamic bishops:

As leaders of minority faith communities in Quebec we feel compelled to express our deep distress at the manner in which the religious neutrality law passed by the National Assembly implicitly targets another minority religious group in this province.

Although veiled as a question of identification and security , Bill 62’s provisions regarding face coverings will most directly impact a small minority of Muslim women in Quebec, whose freedom to express their religious beliefs is enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For Christians, these human rights are grounded in the dignity accorded each human being by virtue of having been made in the image and likeness of their Creator.

The January 29 shooting massacre at Quebec City’s Grand Mosque — and other acts of violence before and since — demonstrate that our Muslim neighbours live in a climate of suspicion and fear that threatens their safety. Bill 62 helps foster that climate at a time when we are turning to our governments and public institutions to protect vulnerable minorities in our midst.

We recognize and support the desire for Quebec to be a secular society. However, to be secular means to be pluralistic, allowing freedom of belief both in one’s private and public life. The provisions of Bill 62, however they are applied, unnecessarily put that fundamental freedom —  and potentially people’s security — at risk.

We invite our elected leaders, and all Quebecers, to join us in trying to foster a safe and welcoming environment for all who make Quebec their home, whatever their culture or religion.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, Bishop of Montreal, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers, Bishop of Quebec, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Michael Pryse, Bishop of the Eastern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Bishop Dennis Drainville to take medical leave

Drainville is the bishop of the Diocese of Quebec, a diocese which has been on the verge of collapse for some time now. This article in the Journal gives more details.  One of the things that struck me about it was Drainville’s comments about his leadership team; their main job, it seems, has been to close unprofitable parishes. He tells us that he has never worked with such a committed team before. The comedy intrinsic in waxing eloquent on the diligence of a team whose commitment is to dismantling their own organisation escapes him, needless to say.

Drainville said, however, that in the overwhelming majority of cases, decisions in the diocese of Quebec are made by consensus among members of the leadership team. The team rose to many challenges facing the diocese during his episcopacy admirably, he said. “They are the finest team I have ever worked with in my life. And I don’t expect I’ll ever see a team that is as good and committed and engaged.”

Diocese of Quebec, R.I.P.

The Diocese of Quebec is on the verge of extinction not, you may be surprised to learn, because of global warming but because Anglophones are departing Quebec and those that are left in the churches are ageing. The diocese enjoys focussing on things like greening your parish’s liturgy, so the positive way of looking at this is that, very soon, there will be grass growing where the churches used to be: the ultimate in parish greening.

From here:

Anglophone migration out of Francophone Canada has decimated the Anglican Church with the number of members of the Diocese of Quebec falling almost in half over the past two years, a document released on the diocesan website reports.

“A Thumbnail Sketch of the Diocese” published on 14 Sept 2015 in preparation for the election of the 13th Bishop of Quebec reported: “There are 69 congregations, serving an overall Anglican population of approximately 1800 souls.” Statistics published in a report released in early 2014 by the Task Force on Mission Ministry and Management reported the diocese had 3000 members in 52 parishes with 87 congregations.

[….]

Diocesan leaders have warned Anglicanism was facing extinction in Quebec. An essay posted last year on the diocesan webpage stated 64 per cent of congregations would close or be amalgamated with other parishes in the next five years. The 2014 Task Force on Mission Ministry and Management paper stated “42% of congregations have fewer than 10 regular services a year and 76% have fewer than 25 participants at services. In 31% of the congregations the age range begins at 50 and in 13% at 70.” The report further reported that a “staggering 83%” reported minimal or no activity outside of worship.

Diocese of Quebec’s strategy to attract new members

According to its bishop, Dennis Drainville, the Diocese of Quebec is on the verge of extinction. In 2009, he lamented that he could be “the last bishop of Quebec”. There is nothing that upsets an Anglican bishop quite so much as the withering away of bishops.

But now the Diocesan newspaper is fighting back to attract new members! In a bold seeker friendly gesture, the paper has published this image to illustrate the atoning death of God’s Son on the cross. Or daughter – or something:

Crucified Woman

Diocese of Quebec facing extinction

According to a Quebec priest, if the diocese does not change it will die; he doesn’t elaborate on whether this will be a good or a bad thing, relying, presumably, on the affable temperament of his readers to lead them to think the latter. I am not affable.

His solutions are to become more ecumenical, bilingual and accepting of all the gay people longing to attend Anglican churches. Rev. Yves Samson is himself gay and seems at a loss to explain why he is already not attracting more sexually like-minded individuals. Surely it can’t be because gay men and women have no more interest in an ecumenical Anglican eco-cult than heterosexuals.

From here:

As Rev. Yves Samson speaks to his congregation in the Quebec town of Trois-Rivières, two things stand out: the bilingualism of the sermon and the dearth of parishioners.

Samson holds nothing back when he says that, without radical change, the Anglican Diocese of Quebec could soon be extinct.

“If we want to keep going on (the old) track we will all die,” Samson says in an interview after his French and English sermon to a room full of near-empty pews in the St. James Anglican Church.

The numbers are interesting:

Some numbers about the Anglican Diocese of Quebec, which serves a large part of the province, including Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières:

  • Priests: 25.

  • Parishes: 52, with 45 per cent running a deficit in 2012.

  • Congregations: 87, with 64 per cent saying they would close or be amalgamated by 2019.

  • Annual income: Below $20,000 for roughly 70 per cent of congregations.

  • Regular services: Forty-two per cent of congregations have fewer than 10 a year.

Bishop Dennis Drainville has an ingenious scheme to resuscitate the Diocese of Quebec

According to Bishop Dennis Drainville his diocese, the Diocese of Quebec, is dying:

The Rt. Rev. Dennis Drainville said his diocese was “teetering on the verge of extinction” according to an account given by the church’s official newspaper.

Of the diocese’s 82 congregations, 50 were childless and 35 congregations had an average age of 75. These graying congregations often had no more than 10 people in church on Sundays, he said. “The critical mass isn’t there, there’s no money anymore,” he said.

In a flash of brilliance rarely seen illuminating the dimly sputtering synapses of a Canadian Anglican bishop, Drainville has decided that the answer to replenishing his childless congregations is to start blessing homosexual couples. Because their couplings produce so many offspring.

Same-sex couples in the diocese of Quebec will soon be able to receive a blessing of their civil union, according to the Anglican diocese’s newspaper, the Gazette.

[….]

In his charge to synod, Drainville expressed his intention to provide a rite of blessing and pastoral support for persons living in “committed, same-gender relationships.” This blessing is not a marriage, he emphasized, but rather “the blessing of civil union that has already taken place.”