Ottawa not pushing Cariboo to bankruptcy: Herb GrayDear editor,
I am writing in response to your editorial, Cariboo, 1914-2001 and the related article in the October edition of the Anglican Journal.
First, let it be clear. Negotiations continue in good faith on the issue of shared financial liability between the federal government and the church organizations on compensating victims of physical and sexual abuse at Indian residential schools. I find it unusual to have quotes condemning the negotiations as a failure while government officials and church representatives continue to meet on the substantial issues that need resolution.
As far as I am aware, the government has responded to letters from the diocese of Cariboo. The diocese received a letter from the federal government on July 24th confirming that all financial matters of participating churches across Canada, including concerns related to the diocese of Cariboo, would be addressed within the negotiating framework.
Throughout our meetings over the past year, I have assured church leaders that the government will work with them to identify the best options that will assure the long-term viability of the church organizations. The federal government is not pushing Cariboo into bankruptcy. The steps you report are decisions it has made on its own. A court, not the federal government, determined that the diocese was 60 per cent responsible for the abuse that took place.
While the problems of the diocese of Cariboo are troubling, we are a long way from seeing the Anglican Church as a whole or any other denomination declare bankruptcy.
The Anglican church has relied on its corporate structure to insist that only those dioceses, parishes, or orders where abuse occurred are liable.
These tend to be smaller entities with fewer resources, thus preventing them from relying upon the strength of the Anglican community across the country for assistance.
I believe that Canadians expect that other organizations of the church contribute to the financial burden when some of its smaller parishes cannot pay their share of the compensation for abuses that took place.
The federal government recognizes the role of Canada’s churches as important institutions in today’s society.
Federal officials have taken steps to reduce and minimize the legal costs for churches, including the virtual elimination of third-partying and the provision of financial assistance to church representatives for their travel and accommodations costs during negotiations.
We are seeking an agreement with the Anglican church to allow us to resolve the most important issue – the legitimate claims of victims of sexual and physical abuse by employees of these residential schools. Settling the residential schools cases as soon as possible remains a priority for me and for the government.
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
A sad contrast
What a sad contrast between the service in the National Cathedral in Washington on Friday, Sept. 14 and the national day of mourning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
In the one with dignity and grace, religious leaders of the United States and its president called upon resources of divine strength, offered prayers and sought compassion for all who have suffered so grievously. In the other there were no words from people of faith, no representatives of Canada’s great religious traditions, no prayers offered for those who have died so tragically or for their families, no words from any scripture.
Is it our government’s barren wisdom that in a nation with a variety of religions we are best represented at a rare moment of national mourning by no religion at all?
What a marvelous opportunity to bring together the president of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops, a leading Canadian Muslim cleric, a Jewish rabbi, and the moderator of the United Church to offer prayers each in their own tradition.
How sad that our government, unlike in the United States and Britain with their multi-racial societies, lacked the vision to call on those resources at this time of crisis.
Women in high office
I can understand the frustration on the part of some that female clergy do not occupy more leadership positions in our church. But I think that it goes beyond a simple glass ceiling issue as Bishop Ann Tottenham argues.
In my opinion, we ought to focus on what leadership and management skills we need in our church leaders. In a merit based (hopefully) selection system, church authorities and synods will seek to appoint the most qualified candidates to positions. It is up to the church, along with candidates who aspire to leadership positions, to prepare clergy to assume positions of greater responsibility.
But women clergy have a role to play too in order to self-select for higher office. And, realistically, is it reasonable to expect that many clergy who take orders later in life will gain preferment quickly? That doesn’t happen in any other profession either.
The fact is that as more women enter orders, more will be selected for leadership roles. This process is painfully slow for some, I know, but consider how far we have come since we first ordained women. In truth, in the history of the church, that was really not so long ago.
Response to terror
I call on the church to, as a response to the events of Sept. 11: 1. Not to blame Muslims as a community; 2. Not to over react in anti-Americanism; 3. To think of ways that we as the Anglican Church can support our Muslim neighbours as well as our U.S. neighbours; 4. To educate our people in avoiding anti-Arab/Muslim attitudes; 5. To seek a reasonable solution to this emergency.
The news of events at General Synod thrills and excites me. Both the declaration signed with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and also the ongoing progress and commitment shown by the Anglican church in the resolution of residential schools conflicts are very real and positive answers to prayer for me.
While we speak openly and sincerely about healing and reconciliation, it is our responsibility to ensure that the words we speak are only the evidence of the real action we take.
I was interested to read of a “healing commission” and national government fund established by the National Council of Churches in Australia. Could we not do something similar here?
What about a national native and redemption fund for use in reclaiming land lost to corporate and private interests, legally or otherwise? Such a fund would go farther than any legal compensation in its ability to help rebuild lives and communities. It might also serve to allow other Canadians of immigrant extraction to see themselves in relation to the land we live in and the people who have been here for ages.
Let’s take possession of this issue, and not wait for rulings on what we should do. Our hands are not tied.
In support of protest
I support the serious, thinking majority among the demonstrators who attended world summit meetings. How else can they gain the attention of the big corporations and the many national governments that support their agenda? Voting is largely futile and most members of the media are not asked to investigate and report, in full, specific reasons for the demonstrators’ rejection of undemocratic globalization.
A recent Canadian poll discovered that 40 per cent of respondents believed that they are worse off then they were 10 years ago. What must the situation be in less affluent countries?
I believe that the number of demonstrators will grow, particularly after the death in Genoa. The demand for a democratic global economy will not die. Proponents of a civil society do require more cohesion, broader understanding, additional strategies and great perseverance.
The national church is on the financial ropes. My own diocese of Huron is about to hold a special synod to review its financial options (very few it seems) and is exhorting its adherents to increase their givings.
Yet we read in the Journal about multiple receptions at General Synod, with a Caribbean band and bagels imported from Montreal, a social hosted by the diocese of Huron, another reception with wine. What is it about the word “broke” that those responsible do not understand?
Paying the penalty
On July 5, 2001, Bishop James Cruickshank of Cariboo, told members of General Synod that his diocese would cease operation by Oct. 15, 2001. If we are truly the body of Christ, perhaps the remaining 29 dioceses should have the courage to do the same. Perhaps we need to sell all our assets to meet our legal obligations.
Grand Bank, Nfld.
Why pay legal fees?
Can someone please explain why the Anglican Church of Canada has spent enormous sums in legal fees? The victims of abuse at residential schools have received not one penny of the money spent by our church. Could someone also advise me if the members of the legal profession, to whom the monies have been paid, have defeated as much as one single unjustified claim or have caused any claim to be reduced by as much as one nickel?
Mystified by connection
In her reaction to the vote in the diocese of New Westminster in support of blessing same-sex unions, Rev. Dawn McDonald (Sept. 2001 Journal) writes that she feels that she, as an ex-gay, has been “kicked in the face.” She says she has been told that she is mistaken in believing that her sexual orientation has changed.
I am mystified by the connection the author makes between the vote and her place in the life of the church.
The vote in New Westminster did not speak to the veracity of the claims of Ms. McDonald. It was about blessing the committed relationships of lesbians and gays.
No one whom I heard speak during the debate ever uttered the sentiments Ms. McDonald attributes to some supporters of the motion on same-sex unions. On the contrary, what I consistently heard was an affirmation that all are welcome in the life of the church.
Unfortunately, what I frequently heard from the other side was the sentiment that gays and lesbians have a “condition” in need of healing, and that their relationships were examples of wanton immorality.
There is no reason for her to feel marginalized on these grounds, for God invites us all to the table.