Mark MacDonald, Canada’s first national indigenous Anglican archbishop, resigned from his post over “acknowledged sexual misconduct,” the church announced Wednesday.
In a statement providing few details of the misconduct committed by MacDonald, the Anglican Church of Canada said the 68-year-old married father of three, who assumed the post of bishop in 2007 before he was promoted to archbishop in 2019, “formally relinquished the exercise of the ordained ministry pursuant to Canon XIX, effective April 20, 2022.”
“Archbishop Mark MacDonald has resigned as National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop and has relinquished the exercise of ministry due to acknowledged sexual misconduct,” The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, archbishop and primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, wrote in an open letter.
“This is devastating news. The sense of betrayal is deep and profound when leaders fail to live up to the standards we expect and the boundaries we set. Our hearts hold compassion for human frailty and space for repentance while we also ache with the pain that such betrayal causes first to the complainant; then to so many others and to the life of our Church,” she added.
MacDonald, who served as bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church of Alaska for 10 years, also served for a period as assistant bishop for the Navajo Reservation, covering parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, The National Post reported.
In her letter about MacDonald’s admission, Nicholls urged prayers for him as well as the individual who revealed his sexual misconduct.
“First and most importantly our prayers must be for the complainant whose life has been affected by Mark’s actions. The betrayal of trust by someone in such a prominent role of leadership will require a long road of healing and our constant prayers,” she said.
“Also remember Mark and his family in prayer as they face the consequences of his actions that will affect every member,” she asked. “The ripple effects of this misconduct will be felt throughout the Church both in Canada and internationally, but most especially within the Sacred Circle and Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples. We mourn with them.”
Hundreds of people gather every two to three years to participate in Sacred Circles, which are “national gatherings of Indigenous Anglicans for prayer, worship, discernment, and decision-making.” The last one was held in November.
According to The Vancouver Sun, MacDonald’s sudden resignation comes while the Anglican Church of Canada is under fire for its handling of unrelated allegations of sexual misconduct.
He had also been slated to play a crucial role in the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Canada next week, where the church’s desire to reconcile with Canada’s Indigenous people is expected to be highlighted.