The church and the nation

 — June 1, 19981 juin 1998

by Margaret Shawyer, Anglican News Service

In his address on “Nation and Identity” to the Anglican General Synod, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Hutchison, Bishop of Montreal said that his vision of the church in Quebec would see it stay out of partisan politics while pursuing goals of reconciliation, justice and peace. Bishop Hutchison told the Synod that the church has no mandate to advocate one form of government over another. “How we choose to organize ourselves for collective security and well being is a political question that must be settled by voters at the ballot box, be they Christian or not,” he said.  But he added: “We do, on the other hand, have a mandate … to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”

“It is my view that the church has no business aligning itself with the Yes or No side of the referendum on such issues. It must, however, be vigilant in safeguarding the fundamental rights and well-being of its citizens. It is not acceptable to achieve a political agenda at the cost of the just and core values of a society.” Bishop Hutchison admitted that as leader of an overwhelmingly anglophone diocese in a francophone province, his refusal to take political sides has at times been uncomfortable both for him and for members of the church who look to him for leadership.

On the other hand, he said he has not hesitated to speak passionately on political issues, both in private and in public, where he feels that questions of justice are involved. He noted that he has spoken out on the question of native self-determination and on the removal of Passover foods from store shelves because they lacked French language packaging. On the question of Quebec, however, Bishop Hutchison said it is a myth that Canada consists of “two solitudes.” The myth as exploited by politicians “has effectively re-enforced a victim mentality among French Québecois,” he said.

Rather than a nation of “two solitudes,” Bishop Hutchison argued, Canada is, in fact, based on a notion of partnership, an area, he added, where the Anglican Church has a great deal to teach the rest of the country. “I believe that the partnership principle that has become so respected internationally and in the affairs of our church in Canada could have a wider application within our land and serve us well in the future.” Bishop Hutchison said.

Posted: June 1, 1998 • Permanent link:
Categories: News
Transmis : 1 juin 1998 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : News

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