Huron diocese rejects lobbying campaign

Published November 1, 2000

The Diocese of Huron has rejected General Synod’s request that it ask parishioners to write letters to the Prime Minister and members of Parliament asking for a resolution to the residential schools crisis.

In a letter dated Sept. 19 and sent to clergy in the diocese, Archbishop Percy O’Driscoll wrote: “The General Secretary, Jim Boyles, has developed a packet of materials to be used in a letter writing campaign to the Federal Government, for the purpose of having the Government assume greater responsibility for the lawsuits arising from residential schools.”

The letter said the diocese asked Archdeacon Boyles not to send the materials, which include form letters to the Prime Minister and members of Parliament, to the clergy of Huron and Archdeacon Boyles agreed to the request.

Archbishop O’Driscoll’s letter said the diocese has three reasons for not wanting to participate in the lobbying campaign:

The first is that the material is not clear on the distinctions between General Synod and the dioceses, referring in the materials to “the church.” Legally and practically, there are important distinctions, although “theologically we are together as the church,” Archbishop O’Driscoll said. The lack of clarity could cause the diocese legal difficulties if it has to go to court, he said.

Secondly, the material talks about actions of the Department of Justice driving the church into bankruptcy. This may be the case for General Synod, but it is not for the Diocese of Huron.

Thirdly, Huron did not have a contractual agreement to manage the Native residential school in its area, the Mohawk Institute. Therefore, “the statements of responsibility by General Synod are not applicable to the Diocese of Huron.”

A number of lawsuits have been filed seeking damages for abuse allegedly suffered by aboriginal students at the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, now the Woodland Cultural Centre.

Archdeacon Boyles, in an interview, said each diocese has the right to back out of the letter-writing campaign, but he has received word that some Anglicans in the diocese have taken the form letters off the church’s Web site and written to MPs.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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