Because I’m currently in Kitchener, Ontario, where I’m dog-sitting for my sister and brother-in-law while they attend their son’s wedding in China, I’m ‘out-of-touch’ with McCallum news. News that includes the Anglican Church’s stripping of all minister-like privileges from St. Peter’s lay reader Terry MacDonald, because Terry took a common-law wife (Linda).
Now, I imagine Terry was not caught off-guard by the Church’s choices. Few of us reach midlife without having realized that institutions of all sorts, and many of the people employed to manage them, care much more about themselves and their beloved ‘rules’, than they do those who pay their way. So today’s column is not about Terry’s loss, nor the Church’s archaic judgement.
No. Today’s column is about the embarrassment I feel for those who pass such judgement. Because their actions demonstrate how out-of-touch they are with the fact that their own professional survival, as individuals and as an institution, is dependent on their capacity to once again become ‘relevant’ in the lives of those who might wish to support them. And how out-of-touch they are with the wants and needs of their declining clientele.
For example, why is it that Clayton Hunt’s article in the September 6 ‘Coaster’ - about MacDonald’s defrocking - had to close with a comment noting that the Bishop, “did not want to make any statement on the issue publicly.”? Why not? Canadian human resource law? Then why wouldn’t he stand up and say so? Or is the Bishop being bullied by the people he reports to, rendering him fearful of what they might think or say?
Are we not all aware that people in powerful clerical positions are, more than ever, expected to be transparent and accountable? Because religious institutions have betrayed our trust over time – via acts of child molestation and gross error in judgement as it applies to the needs of native persons and people of different (or perhaps not so different) sexual orientation than leadership? Is it because Church champions are so ignorant, arrogant and self-serving, that they consciously make choices to cover their own needs well ahead, and frequently in lieu, of those within their diocese? Because I don’t believe that most people in power want, when the going gets tough, to turn and run and hide behind an extremely out-dated ‘no comment’ comment. Yet, such unwillingness to ‘blow the lid off the issue’ in an effort to acquire resolve for the majority, rather than just the powerful few, can unfortunately make those empowered appear cowardice.
Whatever the reasons, for failing to be accountable for MacDonald’s defrocking, there are many unanswered questions that the people of the Coast of Bays and beyond are entitled to answers to. Like, how such a decision was arrived at and by whom? Were McCallum church goer’s wants and needs considered? Were they asked for their input in advance? Or is head office full of fascists?
To which I wonder: Is the Church up for the task of managing McCallum’s spiritual needs? Does leadership in Gander really want the organization to move into the 21st Century? To be relevant? And what do these decision-makers see for their McCallum member’s future now that they’ve undermined the community’s efforts to access their god? Or is that a secret too? Questions that anybody in any position of power, today, should know they have a responsibility to publicly respond to, unless they’re so incredibly out-of-touch.