Letters to the editor

Published December 1, 2001

Cariboo replies to GrayDear editor,

This is a response to Hon. Herb Gray’s letter in the Nov. 2001 Journal, and is intended only to correct the record.

As we now know negotiations, in good faith or otherwise, apparently do not now continue between church organizations and government. Churches directly expressed concern about the mandate and intentions of the Government of Canada, to government negotiators and Mr. Gray’s office. The quotes Mr. Gray finds “unusual” are mere truthful public comments reflective of what was being said directly.

Respecting responses to diocese of Cariboo letters, Canada, as of the date of this letter, has not responded in writing to letters sent to Mr. Stagg’s predecessor (Scott Clark) offering an alternative to litigation which put on the table 100 per cent of the potential exigible value of all property assets registered in the name of the diocese. Further, Canada has not responded to any letters sent to the Justice Department requesting an alternate dispute resolution process for issues surrounding various church properties.

Mr. Gray is correct when he says “the federal government is not pushing Cariboo into bankruptcy.” Bankruptcy is a technical formal legal process. Cariboo is not in that process. Instead, Cariboo is “ceasing to operate” as of Dec. 31, 2001.

The reason? It owes Canada more money than the total value of its assets. Why does it owe Canada money? Because in all but four instances of the several court cases it has faced, Canada sued the diocese through third party action. Contrary to what Mr. Gray states about “the virtual elimination of third partying,” the sole and only reason for the demise of Cariboo is the consequence of third party actions brought against the diocese by Mr. Gray’s government.

Mr. Gray says the Anglican church “relies” on its corporate structure respecting liability. That statement is true. The church, like any individual or a government, must rely on its corporate structure. It can request others to assist but it cannot compel their assistance by pretending its corporate structure is something the law says it is not. Canada’s insistence on a pan-denominational approach to church structures, in clear denial of the facts, has been a central impediment to reaching an agreement. In addition, it has precluded church led potential to develop voluntary contributions from countless organizations that have expressed a desire to help.

The assertion that “federal officials have taken steps to reduce legal costs” is extraordinary. The entire process of third party actions, as well, for instance, as the appeal of the Blackwater decision in Port Alberni, all are driven by federal government decisions and those decisions in turn are the primary drivers of legal costs for all churches.

Throughout this summer of negotiations, the federal government did not advance a single initiative which fairly could be characterized as showing “settling residential school cases as a priority.” The entire summer was spent listening to federal officials talk about money, how to apportion it and how Canada could get “commercial security” (read mortgages) on churches across Canada.

The legitimate and pressing needs of victims of Canada’s failed residential school assimilation policy was not central to any of the proposals or interventions advanced by Canada. The government’s sole and only focus was how to extract money from churches to support their Justice Department’s legal tactics.

Let us pray that at some date in the near future, Canada will reflect on the need to change course so that justice can be done, can be seen to be done and can be done without creating a whole new set of wrongs.

Bud Smith, Q.C.

Chancellor, Diocese of Cariboo

God weeping

Dear editor,

As one of the estimated 100,000 people who gathered on Parliament Hill on Sept. 14, I feel compelled to respond to the critics who bemoaned the lack of public prayer; and to bear witness to the power of this dignified, official commemoration to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

There were no stirring nationalist speeches; but then I barely remember the speeches. I remember the silence.

I have never before heard so many people be absolutely silent for so long. You could hear 100,000 people simply breathing. I swear I could also hear, in the silence, God weeping.

I cannot imagine a religious leader, of any faith, expressing in words the deep spiritual longing, and spiritual communion expressed in the silence shared by those thousands of people drawn from every ethnic and religious community to be found in Ottawa.

The silence was broken by the bells of the carillon in the Peace Tower, built to commemorate those carillons destroyed in towns in Flanders during World War I, a fitting reminder of our shared national memory and shared values, whatever our creed.

This was not political correctness. It was simply correct. In fact, it was sublime.

Ron Chaplin


Hitting back at evil

Dear editor,

Once again the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada misses the point.

On Sept. 11, more than 5,000 innocent people in New York City and Washington D.C. lost their lives in a violent and brutal manner. They had no chance to escape or prepare for the violence to come.

The Afghan government and people were given adequate time to behave in a civilized manner, and hand over those responsible for the lost lives. They knew the consequences of failing to do so.

The terrorists and their protectors do not respond to negotiation and diplomatic initiatives. They are well-educated, wealthy bullies determined to acquire power and spread their particular brand of evil. The problem is not U.S. and Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East, although it is used as the convenient excuse.

The U.S. and British military action in Afghanistan has been undertaken in order to defend against further terrorist activities. It is not a matter of revenge but a matter of self-defense.

I respectfully suggest the primate and leadership of the Anglican church cease questioning our motives and instead provide the support it is morally obligated to supply. It should be calling for fervent prayers that we will be successful. And although I am no theologian, I believe that we as Christians have an obligation to stand up to evil even if it means hitting back.

Cynthia E. Conrad


Cree translations

Dear editor,

Congratulations on the article “Native elder translating the Bible into Cree” by Sue Careless, and published in your recent issue of the Anglican Journal (October, 2001).

I worked with Stan Cuthand and the Canadian Bible Society’s Western Cree translation project for sixteen years. For the first two years I was secretary to the project when I was Anglican Indian Missioner working on the reserves around North Battleford. For the next 14 years I was with CBS as coordinator and consultant for the project. Previously, I knew Stan as a fellow priest in the diocese of Saskatoon.

I don’t want to diminish Stan Cuthand’s stature as an excellent translator and apt teacher of his language and culture, but I must point out the error you made in the caption to Stan’s picture which states, “He is chief translator as well as overseeing the project.”

It is the project coordinator who oversees the project. My successor in this task is Ruth Spielmann, a Wycliffe Bible translator member now employed by the translation office of the Canadian Bible Society in Kitchener. May God watch over this project and bring it to completion.

Bob Bryce


Time for rebirth

Dear editor,

The diocese of Cariboo has a wonderful opportunity for rebirth in year 2002. It’s an opportunity for Koinonia to be experienced in a new light. Yet it is traceable to primitive Christianity, when believers gathered in homes where their faith was shared, their hope inspired, and their love nurtured, in a setting of intimacy. Pews may have been comfortable, but they can also be cold. Diocesan bankruptcy can, and should, initiate the excitement of reorganization, renewal and enthusiasm such as the apostles themselves experienced.

Richard E. Clark

Blaine, Wash. U.S.A.

God’s calling

Dear editor,

I have no problem with female priests, or bishops, for that matter, but I find it interesting that one had to get to the end of an article about women in leadership roles in the church before we read any reference whatsoever to any kind of call. As Rev. Frances Boutilier said “I believe that God called me here.” Then there was the afterthought that this was “a sentiment echoed over and over again by female priests interviewed for this article.”

Indeed. The women directly involved were well aware of their calling, but you couldn’t seem to put that in print. Everywhere else it was discussed in terms of “career” and women “…seeking leadership positions.”

I feel that anyone who “seeks” the episcopate, male or female, probably oughtn’t be a bishop in the first place. And that goes for all the many who have done so in the past. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the unworthy can’t be bishops, or anything so pompous, merely that we seem to need a rethinking of what the priesthood and the episcopate really are. If we can think of it as a call, then we can ask, “Is God not calling women to the Episcopate, or are men standing in His way?” Surely that’s the real question.

Ford Elms

St. John’s, Nfld.

Cause and principle

Dear editor,

Regarding “A Pointless Protest and a Pointless Death”, editorial (September 2001): This paragraph rang with me: “Martin Luther King Jr., knew that the heart of protest is the cause, not the protester, the principles, not the tactics.”

Tomorrow I shall give a little talk on the women in the calendar of the Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada.

I shall begin with Perpetua and Companions. You might have been writing about these third century martyrs when you referred to Martin Luther King Jr., and emphasized cause and principles.

H.M. Moore

Penticton, B.C.


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