even congregations have cut ties with the Anglican Church of Canada because of theological differences on blessing same-sex unions and related issues, adding to a wave of conservative defections. And the head of one breakaway group predicts more are on the way.
Last weekend (February 15-17), seven parishes voted to leave the national church to join with a South American archbishop. Six Anglican parishes in Ontario, eight in British Columbia, and three in Alberta have decided to operate outside the Anglican Church of Canada and join the recently formed Anglican Network in Canada, which holds more traditional views. Of the 17 dissenting congregations and parishes, 10 have voted to align themselves with the Anglican Communion's more orthodox Province of the Southern Cone, which covers most of South America.
"I'm quite confident that this is just a beginning," Bishop Donald Harvey, moderator of the recently formed Anglican Network in Canada, told reporters. Harvey said the breakaway parishes seek a "haven" under the jurisdiction of the South American archbishop, Gregory Venables.
Vianney Carriere, a spokesman for the Anglican Church of Canada, noted that despite the recent departures, almost 2,300 congregations remain in the national church.
The Canadian church's top governing body decided last June that blessing same-sex marriages does not violate basic church doctrine, prompting anger among conservative congregations. Canada's bishops have decided to continue a moratorium on same-sex marriages, however. Some local parishes and dioceses are blessing the unions anyway.
The National Football League will now allow churches to air live showings of the Super Bowl on a screen of any size, reversing a previous ban on widescreen televisions.
Members of Congress, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and church leaders had objected to the NFL's rule that churches could not hold Super Bowl parties featuring TV screens larger than 55 inches, even though sports bars routinely do.
"For future Super Bowls, the league will not object to live showings -- regardless of screen size -- of the Super Bowl by a religious organization when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organization on a routine and customary basis," wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a February 19 letter to Hatch.
Hatch had written to Goddell on February 13, asking a series of questions about the policy and saying he wanted to ensure that "all Americans" could watch the game with "loved ones and neighbors."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the change was made to clarify confusion about the matter. "We were not going after churches, not investigating churches, and we have never sued a church," he said Thursday. "What we're doing now is simply eliminating the question and confusion about copyright law."
Hatch was pleased with the NFL's decision. "I am grateful that this accommodation was made to allow the NFL to protect its copyrighted material, while respecting the interests of churches," the senator said. "Many families want to enjoy the Super Bowl in a group atmosphere -- but obviously aren't going to take their kids to a sports bar."
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., introduced legislation February 4 that would allow churches to show the Super Bowl on widescreen televisions.
Goodell told Hatch the league believes legislation is not necessary and will begin its policy with the Super Bowl next February 1.
McCarthy denied that the league was pressured to make the policy change. "It was responding to the confusion over the last couple of years but Sen. Hatch ... did play into the overall shift," he said.