It is looking less likely that the Diocese of Cariboo will vote to dissolve at its October synod meeting, because it won’t be permitted voluntarily to declare bankruptcy.
“The government is treating us like a bunch of motels that can easily be replaced,” said diocesan Bishop Jim Cruickshank. “The law that guides all this has nothing to do with charitable organizations. It has to do with business law.”
When contacted about the upcoming synod, the bishop was busily preparing two possible agendas – one to be used if the diocese were able to move towards dissolving, and a second if it were allowed to continue. In the latter case, people would have to be elected to positions on the diocesan executive and to next year’s General Synod, he noted.
The diocese had hoped to have some control over what happened to its remaining assets. It now looks like it will have to be forced into bankruptcy, Bishop Cruickshank said, after the latest round of eight residential school lawsuits involving it conclude, likely this fall.
“Because the bills haven’t come in yet, all the parties have to co-operate,” the bishop said. “Our major creditor is the government of Canada and it’s pretty clear they’re not going to co-operate. So if they won’t co-operate, we have to be forced into bankruptcy rather than voluntarily go bankrupt.”
Dealing with impending bankruptcy is complicated and it has been exhausting, the bishop said. For the first time, he is having trouble recruiting clergy to the diocese. He also finds it difficult to talk about the diocese’s problems, he added, because “it sounds like you’re whining” and it pales in comparison to the abuse that took place.
“People just don’t know the costs of this, what this has done to people’s souls,” he said. “You know, elderly, beautiful people who don’t know how much longer they’re going to live, who gave all their lives to their church, and seeing it being dismantled.”
Also on the agenda of the already difficult diocesan synod is the issue of blessing same-sex unions.