Let us gladly assume collective responsibilityDear editor,
I am writing to express my strong support for the agreement our church has made with the federal government to settle the residential schools claims against us. To me, this is the most exciting thing that our church has done during my lifetime. I am proud of the moral leadership shown by our primate and negotiators. Not only does this agreement allow us to escape from the crippling costs of litigation, it also provides a basis for reconciliation with our native compatriots and for forging a stronger country. Some will ask, “Why should we be held responsible for things we didn’t do?” We should gladly assume this collective responsibility for the sake of our church and our country. The cost of the settlement is substantial, but much less than our potential liability might have been had the case gone to court. I hope that the church will establish two funds to which we can contribute – one for the settlement of the claims and the other for support of native cultural development. Our negotiators were courageous to make this commitment for the church. I hope that we will stand strongly behind them in this leap of faith they took on our behalf. John Filliter Dartmouth, N.S.
Saving our skins
What concerns me most about the residential schools agreement is that the government requires the church to “vigorously oppose” claims of aboriginal peoples regarding loss or diminution of language or culture as a result of the policies of the government and church governing Indian residential schools. Matthew Coon Come states that the majority of claimants – thousands – have experienced just this kind of abuse. We have been forced to, or chosen to, turn our backs on them.
The church’s FAQ document about the agreement says there is no basis in law for these claims. We diminish their importance even before the courts have fully considered them. In so doing we provide ourselves with a kind of excuse for an astonishing about-face. For up until now, the Anglican negotiators have been adamant about the validity and importance of statements of suffering and loss thusly arising.
Furthermore, the government has not granted the church a form of neutrality. We must vigorously oppose the same aboriginal peoples who were led to believe we cared about their pain by the primate, when he apologized for our part in these horrors. But now we have betrayed that apology; the aboriginal people will find us actually denouncing their efforts to come to the bar of justice on these very matters. By this agreement we are being set against most of the aboriginal people, as a price for saving our skins. The shame one should feel “is more than I can say.”
Won’t pay twice
The church must think many of us parishioners are fools, easily parted from our offerings. It appears that no thought has been given to the possible reactions of parishioners if the residential schools accord is accepted.
I have no concerns that our elected politicians have decided that a transfer of money to victims is an appropriate response to the residential schools issue. As a citizen and taxpayer, I am prepared to support decisions made by our elected representatives. I will not, however, accept some additional personal responsibility through transfer of a portion of my church offerings in accordance with the agreement between the Anglican church and the Government of Canada.
If my diocese decides to support the accord, my future offerings will be re-directed to other charitable organizations.
Keith D. Phinney
Not their problem?
The lead story in the January issue (“Dioceses give nod to accord”) notes that: “? some parishioners in dioceses that have not been sued are wondering why they are being asked to pay too.” Presumably these are the same parishioners who ignore calls for help from destitute African nations because they didn’t cause their problems either.
Campbell River, B.C.
Re: Priscilla Turner’s letter (January 2003). While I am all for discussion on the place of gays and lesbians within the church, I find her comments terribly unfortunate. Take, for example, her sweeping statements that gays and lesbians “… will have betrayed a spouse, deserted offspring … blotched Christian witness in society … broken the heart of a heterosexual lover …”
I am 28 years old, and have never married – no spouse or children have been left in the cold on my account. Nor are there any jilted heterosexual lovers in my past; I never took any.
I am a lesbian and have known this most of my life. As for whether or not I am capable of upholding Christian values, well, I try really hard to ‘love my neighbour’ and ‘do unto others.’ I am employed in mental health services. I work in my church and I volunteer – not because I have to, but because I believe these are ways to give thanks for some of the goodness in my life.
I am an auntie to seven children. I have never missed a birthday, a school play or recital. I have been to more junior hockey and soccer games than I can count. I love my family and am a fairly committed and supportive member. Yes, homosexuality is different in some ways, but there are gifts to be had in this, too. What a shame that Ms. Turner cannot see God’s grace in all mankind.
Rev. Barclay Mayo (January 2003) complains of what he calls a double standard. He says the diocese of New Westminster applies one standard when it accepts cheques from parishioners in dissenting parishes while the national church applies a different standard when it refuses cheques from the dissenting parishes.
Mr. Mayo’s complaints are unfounded. The diocese and the national church both apply the same standard. That uniformly applied standard is this: both the giver of the money and the intended beneficiary of the gift must agree on how the money is to be credited. In the absence of agreement, the gift is refused.
Last June, my parish stopped paying its apportionment to the diocese. In response I have mailed my cheques for the work of the church to the diocese and asked the diocese to credit my contribution to the unpaid apportionment of my parish. Each week I have put a copy of my cover letter in the collection plate.
My parish has been content to receive credit for my contributions. Indeed, our treasurer included in his financial reporting to a December meeting of vestry an update on the amount of the accumulated credits.
The dissenting parishes have sent cheques to the national church to be credited as partial payment of the apportionment of the diocese of New Westminster to the national church. The diocese has said no to these proposed credits. In the absence of consent by both the donor parish and the intended beneficiary diocese, the national church has left the cheques uncashed.
One standard. Two different fact patterns.
Why are eight parishes in the diocese of New Westminster called “dissenting?” At Lambeth 1998, the view of the majority of the Anglican Communion was made clear. A small minority of Anglicans, approximately 72 parishes, have dissented and voted to go their own way. If the 72 dissenting parishes wish to leave the communion it would be a sad day for the 73 million people in the communion, but clearly the eight parishes should be called “adherents” and accommodated within the Anglican Communion.
Many thanks to Bishop William Hockin for his call to us all, in the December Journal, to return to our via media and to the traditional openness of Anglicanism. In an era of strident voices and extreme positions, what he has written is important.
I was disappointed, therefore, to read Archbishop Carey’s remarks in the same issue. The archbishop has said about the blessing of homosexual relationships, “I am a generous person and I wish I could say yes, I could bless (same-sex unions) but I can’t bless what God doesn’t.”
I take it that he is so confident about what God is thinking because he is basing his understanding solely on interpretation of Scripture. If that is the case, Bishop Hockin’s cry for us to return to the centre of Anglicanism is all the more important.
A Scriptures-only approach is not the traditional Anglican way, which would take into account such factors as: a consideration of Christian experience through the ages; an openness to new scientific and psychological understanding; and a listening to the Holy Spirit trying to communicate with us right now.
Cut off from child
For five years, I have shared my social security widow’s pension sponsoring a girl in Ethiopia.
Recently I received a letter from World Vision saying how successful the project has been, and now it is finished and they would like to me take on the sponsorship of another needy child. I would do this, except that World Vision seems to just drop the child and move to the next piece of business.
I am not allowed to communicate with my sponsored child again. I have no address other than World Vision, Addis Ababa. The child’s family has no way of finding me. How cold! World Vision seems to be saying, “Just forget this child. We need your money for the other millions who are starving.”
I am only one senior citizen living on my government pension. I do not sponsor “projects;” I share my limited means with a child I love.
I would be happy to hear from other reputable organizations which sponsor children in Africa but do not cut you off when the “project” is finished. I can be reached at [email protected].