A Letter from Leslie Bentley About Dr. Jim Packer’s Situation

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am the spokesperson for St. John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church in Vancouver. Dr. Packer has been an honourary assistant at St. John's for well over 20 years. We are a church in serious theological dispute with the Diocese of New Westminster which was the first diocese in the worldwide Anglican Communion to write a rite for the blessing of same sex unions and then allow them to happen. This is, of course, only a symptom of the underlying theological dispute which is currently ripping the worldwide communion apart.

Two weeks ago St. John's voted by a 97.7% margin to accept an offer of temporary emergency episcopal oversight from the Province of the Southern Cone under Archbishop Greg Venables. Dr. Packer strongly supported this move. To see Dr. Packer's specific views on the situation in the Anglican Church I encourage you to check out a YouTube posting where he discusses the issue with a reporter. You can find it on YouTube by searching for St. John's Shaughnessy. It is a 10 part video (115 minutes in all) with our rector, David Short, and Dr. Packer giving a very comprehensive explanation of the Anglican Church's situation right now.

I'd also encourage you to look up The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). This the the new structure the orthodox Anglican churches are joining in order that we might remain in full communion with the worldwide church . Currently, The Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of New Westminister have been declared to be in imapired or broken communion with about 20 of 38 National Anglican Churches around the world.

As a result of St. John's vote on Fevruary 13, 2008:

Dr. Packer together with the other clergy at St. John's have been served with a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry under Canon XIX and the notice is based on the following facts:

1. that he has publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada; and
2. that you have sought or intend to seek admission into another religious body outside the Anglican Church of Canada.

The notice also states that if Dr. Packer does not take advantage of provisions under the Canons to dispute the facts stated above, Dr. Packer's spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments conferred in ordination will be revoked on April 21, 2008.

The legal team of ANiC is reviewing and considering the validity and alleged consequences of such Notice of Presumption of Abandonment."

None, of this in any way affects Dr. Packer's status or standing at Regent College or any other of the many organizations he represents.
I hope this helps clarify things. Please don't hesitate to contact me again.


Sincerely,

Lesley Bentley
Spokesperson
St. John's Shaughnessy, Vancouver.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

34 Comments
Posted February 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. William P. Sulik wrote:

I think it starts here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlWF9d8_J3Q

February 29, 6:59 pm | [comment link]
2. MikeS wrote:

OK, how can the bishop revoke his “authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments conferred in ordination” when that authority was conferred by the Church of England?  Is Packer no longer canonically resident in CoE?

If he is still canonically tied to CoE wouldn’t this cause some huge problems for the Archbishop of Canterbury within his own backyard given the reaction that would certainly happen in some quarters of the CoE?

February 29, 7:11 pm | [comment link]
3. robroy wrote:

Mike S, A Fr Ian wrote over at SF:

Pure hubris on the part of + Ingham.  All he can do is remove his license in New Westminster.  He can then complain to the English Bishop (whoever that may be).  If Ingham tried to depose Jim Packer, (remove his holy orders) then he might start an international incident.  How dare a Canadian presume to do such a thing to a Church of England priest!

I asked the same questions about my own exposure (as a C of E priest) to vindictive bishops in TECUSA and my bishop in London gave the above answer.

Ingham is all bombast and in this case powerless.

Of course, Ingham is no stranger to starting international incidents. I am not sure of the repercussions of “removing his license in New Westminster” would be. Maybe Toral1 or JamesW could help us out.

February 29, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
4. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

The videos here
are very good: 1-5 are by the Rector David Short and 6-10 with Dr. Packer.
It really does put into perspective what is going on and the crucial role the decisions made in New Westminster have had in creating the crisis in the Communion.

February 29, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
5. wildfire wrote:

When the history of the disintegration of the Anglican Communion is written the importance of sheer idiocy as a contributing cause will surely be recognized.

February 29, 9:08 pm | [comment link]
6. ReinertJ wrote:

MikeS,
Generally speaking in the Anglican church I cannot function as a priest in any diocese without the authority of the local Bishop conferred in the form of a license.  I was ordained in the Diocese of the North West, (Aust) but currently do not hold a license or a permission to officiate in that diocese, therefore I cannot function as a priest while in that diocese.  If I was to move to the UK, it would require the permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury before a local Bishop could even license me because I fall into the special category of “overseas” (used to be colonial) clergy.

In Mr Packer’s case the withdrawl of the license has no effect on his ordination, he is a Priest and remains a Priest.  He simply cannot canonically function in New Westminster as such, without the authority of the Bishop.
Jon R.

February 29, 9:52 pm | [comment link]
7. Words Matter wrote:

St John’s has left the diocese of Westminster. Why should they care about, or even notice the authority of Westminster’s bishop?

February 29, 10:08 pm | [comment link]
8. Drew wrote:

I liked the way that the classic Punch cartoon of Bishop Ryle kept showing up.  Outstanding!

March 1, 12:05 am | [comment link]
9. jobeena wrote:

MikeS,
The graces conferred on ordination are conferred by God and as far as I know are irrevocable, unless you subscribe to the Donatist view. Canonical authority (a Bishop’s License) to administer the sacraments is not the same thing as spiritual authority to administer the sacraments, and the notice is reported to state that if Dr. Packer “does not take advantage of provisions under the Canons to dispute the facts ,,,”, Dr. Packer’s spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments conferred in ordination will be revoked on April 21, 2008.  Absolutely Absurd in my view, but it does seem that an awful lot of Bishops from Everywhere seem to think that revocation of canonical authority somehow revokes spiritual authority, and I just do not understand this.

March 1, 1:00 am | [comment link]
10. nwlayman wrote:

Well, he could always drive a few miles south to the Diocese of Olympia.  Say he’s a Muslim *and* a Christian and start teaching New Testament at a Jesuit University….Wait, that position’s taken…...
At least we know the local diocesan bishop wouldn’t mind.  He might still be inhibited if he DOESN’T say he’s Muslim down there.  It’s as hard to know what to say you believe as an Anglican as it was Between the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.  You just damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

March 1, 3:07 am | [comment link]
11. azusa wrote:

The other day it was St Polycarp’s Day. If the Lord spares him, Jim Packer will be 82 this year. I wonder if he was reflecting on the persecution of that octogenarian Christian leader: ‘“Eighty-six years have I served him and he hath done me no wrong. Shall I now deny the Lord who saved me?”

March 1, 4:58 am | [comment link]
12. Dale Rye wrote:

Why are people regarding this as a big deal? Dr. Packer has left the Anglican Church of Canada and joined the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America. By doing so, he has pretty obviously sought admission to another religious body outside the ACC, and has renounced the discipline of the ACC in favor of the other body. Under the rules of the ACC (and pretty much every other religious body on the planet), that means he can no longer exercise any office under the authority of the ACC. Why would he want to?

As in the similar actions in the US, nobody is purporting to erase his ordination or his ability to exercise his charism as an ordained person in the church he has chosen, only his authority to act as a clergyman under the authority of the ACC. His spiritual authority to administer Word and Sacrament within the ACC vanished as soon as he left the ACC. The ACC has no right to declare that he does not have authority to administer Word and Sacrament in the Southern Cone, the Roman Catholic Church, or any other church; it has not purported to do so.

March 1, 8:58 am | [comment link]
13. azusa wrote:

“As in the similar actions in the US, nobody is purporting to erase his ordination or his ability to exercise his charism as an ordained person in the church he has chosen, only his authority to act as a clergyman under the authority of the ACC.”
But I understood that Ingham was seeking to do exactly that, to declare Packer et al deposed from Holy Orders; further, to claim that ministry in the ACoC belongs to a different Communion, even *religion than the Province of the Southern Cone. I had always understood that ministry within the Anglican Communion presupposed a transferability and mutual recognition of orders. Ingham now seems to be denying that. Otherwise, why hasn’t he simply withdrawn their licences to minister, as lies within his power?

March 1, 9:59 am | [comment link]
14. Mike Watson wrote:

Dale Rye writes in #12:

As in the similar actions in the US, nobody is purporting to erase his ordination or his ability to exercise his charism as an ordained person in the church he has chosen . . . .

I don’t know what the ACC canons say, but the TEC canons define deposition as “a Sentence by which a Member of the Clergy is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination. . . .”  Since there is no limitation to TEC expressed, by a straightforward reading that sounds an awful lot like what Dale says it isn’t supposed to mean.  The following comment attributed to Fr. Tony Clavier seems to have some merit:

The practice of deposing clergy rather than withdrawing their licenses seems to call into question the Episcopal Church’s own doctrine of the indelibility of Orders and its teaching that Orders are of the Church Catholic and not the possession of an individual denomination.

http://philorthodox.blogspot.com/2007/04/father-tony-on-bishop-cox-and-history.html

March 1, 10:03 am | [comment link]
15. azusa wrote:

#14 - thanks -that’s exactly what I understood Ingham to be claiming to do - to expel/defrock Packer et al from the ministry of the Church Catholic. Otherwise Ingham would be claiming that Canadian Anglican ‘orders’ are not the same thing as British Anglican orders.
In which case, so Canadians have to be ordained again to serve in other provinces - like Victoria Matthew in New Zealand?
Dale, please elucidate. Why didn’t Ingham just withdraw their licenses?

March 1, 10:37 am | [comment link]
16. azusa wrote:

#4: agreed, David Short does a good job of visually displaying how AcoC and Tec have broken ranks with the Ang. communion and how that’s impacting people caught up in those churches.
Dale - I wait your elucidation on Ingham and Canadian orders.

March 1, 11:21 am | [comment link]
17. Cennydd wrote:

#12   No more right than has KJS to proclaim that +John-David Schofield, my bishop, has no right to exercise his ministry in the Province of the Southern Cone.  Dr Packer is in good company, and I wish him well!

March 1, 11:44 am | [comment link]
18. Dale Rye wrote:

The reason that the TEC canons define deposition as “a Sentence by which a Member of the Clergy is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination. . . .” is the words I have emphasized; I believe the ACC canons are similar. The gifts can’t be taken away (“thou art a priest forever”), but a particular church can withdraw its authority to exercise those gifts within that church. That is what deposition does, and it is all that deposition does.

Neither Bp. Ingham nor Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori are under any illusion that they can depose someone who is a legitimate canonical resident of another Anglican province ministering within that province or that they can erase the indelible stamp of ordination. For example, it is simply not the case that the PB has “proclaimed that +John-David Schofield has no right to exercise his ministry in the Province of the Southern Cone.” She has only said that he must be in the Southern Cone of South America in order to do so, and not in the USA.

The question in all these cases is whether the clergy concerned are, in fact, legitimate canonical residents of the other province. The Anglican Communion has never presupposed that clergy could freely transfer from jurisdiction to jurisdiction at their own sole discretion. Since at least AD 325, movement from one diocese to another has required three things: (1) physical domicile in the receiving diocese; (2) the consent of the ecclesiastical authority of the receiving diocese; and (3) a letter of recommendation from the authorities of the sending diocese. Without all three, the transfer has been regarded as ineffective, leaving the clergy member subject to the authority of his original diocese.  Obviously, this is a matter of church discipline, not of doctrine, so the Anglican Communion is free to change the rules; however, it has clearly not yet done so.  Rather, there is a strong and consistent Communion policy disfavoring parallel jurisdictions and urging their abolition.

Both TEC and the ACC have taken the position that they currently have no authority to provide letters dimissory to someone who has no intention of altering his physical domicile, and that the receiving provinces (Rwanda, Nigeria, Southern Cone, etc.) have no authority to consent to the transfer of someone who lacks both domicile and letters dimissory. That may be inconsistent with the North Americans’ position that they do have the authority to authorize blessings of homosexual partnerships, notwithstanding the opposition of the Communion, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

The North American churches basically have no way of amicably removing clergy who claim to have transferred—-without moving—-from their books, because nobody ever imagined that someone could make that claim until less than a decade ago. All thet TEC and ACC can do is make it clear that the transferees’ ministerial authority from the sending diocese has lapsed and let the receiving diocese deal with its own issues. If Southern Cone wants to regard them as clergy in good standing, nobody can stop it. However, the North Americans can stop someone from claiming that he is exercising spiritual gifts under the authority of their provinces when that is clearly not the case.

March 1, 1:27 pm | [comment link]
19. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “However, the North Americans can stop someone from claiming that he is exercising spiritual gifts under the authority of their provinces when that is clearly not the case.”

Right—by withdrawing their license.  Instead, they are purporting to defrock them—and they know good and well what they are purporting to do.

The fact that nobody recognizes their attempted defrockment is neither here nor there.

March 1, 2:07 pm | [comment link]
20. azusa wrote:

#18: Sorry, I don’t think I can buy your interpretation. As far as I can see and read, Deposition does NOT mean withdrawal of a license permitting one to function within a certain jurisdiction; it is a claim to EXPEL a person from the ordained ministry tout simple: that’s the plain meaning of the words “deprived of the right [*not permission*] to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination”. It doesn’t mean ‘denied permision to minister in Diocese of X’; it means: ‘Your priestly authority given at ordination is hereby removed.’ Anglicans have never believed in ‘the indelibility of orders’; that’s a medieval Catholic idea that not even Catholics believe in today (that’s why they talk about ‘ex-priests’).
As for invoking the Canons of the Council of Nicea - really, Dale, are you serious? There are endless numbers of canons and anathemata from the undivided Western church which the reformed Chruch of England simply laid aside (such as priestly celibacy, declarations of the Lateran Council etc etc). You can’t cherry-pick here.

March 1, 2:12 pm | [comment link]
21. azusa wrote:

#19; Sarah - thank you for supporting my interpretation of this act, that it is a purported defrocking/expulsion from the priesthood.
There have been plenty of cases of withdrawing licenses; Dale hasn’t answered why that hasn’t been done here.
We know the answer - it’s a political game of spite.

March 1, 2:16 pm | [comment link]
22. Mike Watson wrote:

Dale Rye, I understand the point you are making in #18.  But why then does the sentence of deposition not refer to deprivation of the right to exercise in this Church the gifts and spiritual authority, etc., with “this Church” having the same meaning given it in the definition of abandonment.  By failing to do that, the sentence of deposition is made to appear to have broader effect than you say.  To maintain that the North American churches have no way of amicably removing clergy from their rolls who transfer without moving is to suggest a lack of creativity which doesn’t seem to be elsewhere apparent.

March 1, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
23. Mike Watson wrote:

Further, if the effect is intended to be limited to the ACC or to TEC, why should it be necessary to “deprive” someone of that which they have already relinquished, rather than accepting the relinquishment?

March 1, 2:37 pm | [comment link]
24. azusa wrote:

#23 Further, Tec (though not ACoC) typically imposes deposition for ‘having abandoned the communion of this church’, which can only mean either (1) Tec is a communion in itself (autobasileai!) or (2) Tec is not in the Anglican Communion (ad madai, Adonai?!)
Mike Watson is right - if the clerics concerned have already ‘renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglcian Church of Canada’, what is the point of this action, beyond un-Christian spite?

March 1, 2:57 pm | [comment link]
25. Chris Hathaway wrote:

Dale, it is the height of hypocrisy for a schismatic protestant church like the Anglican Communion to refer to the authorities of the Nicean Council. Besides, even if you want to be a stickler for the geographical sovereignty of a province or diocese, this doesn’t mean that the geographical territory of a single parish or diocese can’t transfer itself to another province. What are the Nicene canonical provisions for deciding the geographical bounds of provinces or dioceses? Who gets to decide?

There are no rules that cover this because we haven’t been here before.

March 1, 3:18 pm | [comment link]
26. Todd Granger wrote:

As for invoking the Canons of the Council of Nicea - really, Dale, are you serious? There are endless numbers of canons and anathemata from the undivided Western church which the reformed Chruch of England simply laid aside (such as priestly celibacy, declarations of the Lateran Council etc etc). You can’t cherry-pick here.

Exactly so, Gordian (and Chris Hathaway).

The fact is, except for a few places on the continent, English and American Anglican bishops in North American have been violating the boundaries of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of catholic bishops (French, Spanish, and Russian) from the beginnings of the Anglican Churches in what is now Canada and the United States.  The only Church that can quote the canons of Nicaea with integrity is a Church that has lived by those canons in their entirety and that considers itself THE Catholic Church, just as the bishops gathered at Nicaea considered themselves to be the bishops of THE Catholic Church, not simply of one communion within that Church (and that a communion of Churches not in communion with the rest of the Catholic Church!).

These facts do not excuse a provincial and diocesan boundary crossing free-for-all, but the argument against such crossings must be made by Anglicans on grounds other than the canons of the first Council of Nicaea - that is, if that argument is to have any integrity at all.

March 1, 4:35 pm | [comment link]
27. nwlayman wrote:

I can’t see why any Anglican thinks Nicea applies to them at all.  The Creed originally from that council is strictly optional, and mostly ignored.  Why shouldn’t the canons produced there be?  It’s a little like going to a toga party and thinking you’re the Roman Senate.  Crossing boundaries…! How quaint.

March 1, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
28. Cennydd wrote:

Here’s a question for you all:  What do you suppose would happen if a bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada chose to become a member of The Episcopal Church and he or she were licensed in that Church?  Would he or she be disciplined for doing that?  Would he or she be deposed for “abandoning the communion of this Church?” 

I don’t think so!

March 1, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
29. Todd Granger wrote:

It’s a little like going to a toga party and thinking you’re the Roman Senate.

That is, hands down, the best comment of the day.

March 1, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
30. naab00 wrote:

Dale, me thinks you protest too much.

Even if you (and TEC) were entirely right according to the letter of the law - and it has been argued very effectively here that you are not - the principle of attacking a man such as Jim Packer is just beyond belief. 

I predict that Ingham will come to regret this move.  There is no hiding behind the law.  This action demonstrates a powerful vindictiveness and spite towards a man who is infinitely more a man of God than Ingham will ever be.  Ingham has shifted the worldwide meltdown in the Communion up a gear - escalation at this point will provide a rallying call to the moderate orthodox voice around the world. 

I couldn’t begin to put a figure on the numbers who owe a personal debt to Jim Packer around the Communion and Ingham has galvanised them in support of the orthodox against himself.  Praise the Lord!  And the Lord bless saint Jim for whose contribution to biblical Christian faith I and many others will be eternally grateful.

March 1, 7:23 pm | [comment link]
31. Nikolaus wrote:

I must admit, part of me wonders why Dr. Packer waited so long.  But I’m in no position to question him.  However, I do marvel at what the Left is willing to lose to protect the purity of their agenda.

March 1, 11:04 pm | [comment link]
32. azusa wrote:

#28: “Here’s a question for you all:  What do you suppose would happen if a bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada chose to become a member of The Episcopal Church and he or she were licensed in that Church?  Would he or she be disciplined for doing that?  Would he or she be deposed for “abandoning the communion of this Church?”
Well, Victoria Matthew has been elected bishop of Christ Church in New Zealand (subject to confirmation). I don’t think she will be deposed.
What do you think, Dale?

March 2, 3:30 am | [comment link]
33. Dr. Priscilla Turner wrote:

I have been in the Diocese of New Westminster since 1971. My spouse and I were active in renewal in the Parish of St. John’s Shaughnessy during the 1970s, when that parish was orthodox but not specifically evangelical. We were as active laypeople the first to get Jim Packer and John Stott invited in to preach. Since JIP moved to Vancouver in 1978, it has been obvious to us that Jim ought to have been made Canon Theologian here: any diocese with any sense of who he was internationally, and especially one that touted its own theological diversity, should have welcomed him with open arms. Instead our whole denomination is still saying, “Jim who?”

March 3, 9:06 pm | [comment link]
34. Dr. Priscilla Turner wrote:

St. John’s Shaughnessy, Vancouver in Snow, late 1970s

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22905474@N06/2308406229/sizes/m/

March 3, 9:53 pm | [comment link]
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