Pay what’s due
Dear editor, The foundations of Canadian Indian policy were laid down in 1837 on the twin corner stones of European racial supremacy and military and industrial supremacy. Together they provided a presumed right (and obligation) to take from aboriginal peoples their own way of life and land and “assimilate” them into an immigrant majority. The moral problem at the heart of the policy is that it is now no longer believed that Europeans are racially superior. However the problems generated by 19th century policies remain. The organized Anglican Church became a major participant in fulfilling those policies through the operation of the residential schools. Within the schools there were two types of abuse. There was the general abuse that came from the mandate to attack and replace aboriginal culture, language, religion and way of life with European ways. There was the specific and criminal abuse that came when individual teachers and priests disregarded their trust relationship to children and sexually or physically abused them. The Anglican Journal (October 1999) tells us the dioceses of Cariboo and Qu’Appelle may not be able to pay the compensation that courts may award for specific acts of criminal abuse. The problem is much deeper than these bankruptcies. The whole of the church in Canada needs to open its collective assets to court scrutiny, pay what courts impose into a trust fund, and recognize the moral bankruptcy of a racist approach to aboriginal peoples. Finally we need, as church members, to accept that any lesser response taints us and the present day church with the racism of our past.
Andrew Armitage Victoria (by e-mail)
Dear editor, I wish to comment on Serbs Are Real Victims, Priest Says (November Journal.) I find it inappropriate that an Anglican priest would openly promote such an intolerant view in a Christian journal. It does not take an in-depth investigation to conclude that the Baltic region is consumed by hate from centuries of history. Regardless of who is right or wrong, innocent civilians should not be the targets of this hate. I have compassion for all involved, because they are all victims of this hate. Most countries are made up of a mosaic of citizens. History has shown us too many times the results of the successful use of hate toward ethnic groups to promote nationalist goals. It’s interesting that before taking sides on this unfortunate piece of history, the article indicates that that Mr. Hutton already had his mind made up on who was wrong, and who was right. Count me out in supporting hate and intolerance, regardless of who promotes it, or at whom it’s aimed. We all need to work at getting along in this world, and hate is not the path to anywhere I want to go. Hopefully, our Anglican leaders can show us the Christian way.
Carl Myers Halifax (by e-mail)
Clergy predators rare
Dear editor, Congratulations on your in depth coverage of that most painful subject, sexual misconduct by clergy. But I am concerned the article “Predators in Church a Minority of Sex Offenders” (October Journal) does not distinguish adequately between persons who molest children and persons who become involved in inappropriate sexual conduct with adults… and the difference is enormous! Within the category of sex offenders against children there are clinical groupings known as “pedophiles” and “situational ” offenders. Pedophiles have a primary sexual preference for children. They are compulsive and cause much harm as they have numerous victims. (Some research has shown pedophiles as having an average of over 300 victims by the time they reach they age of 35). They have very poor capacity for rehabilitation and are seen as at life-long, high risk for re-offence. Situational offenders usually have only a single or few victims, usually children past the age of puberty who are family members or children of close friends. The treatment outlook for situational offenders is somewhat more optimistic. However they too are seen as at life long risk for re-offence and must have close monitoring when in the presence of children or adolescents. Persons who engage in sexual misconduct with adults are quite different from child molesters. The issues of abuse of power and role are somewhat similar and there is betrayal of trust. The vast majority of clergy or other professionals who become involved in inappropriate sexual relationships are people who are emotionally needy and poorly equipped to analyze the dynamics in their interpersonal relationships. Most are able to become deeply aware of the turmoil they have caused the victim and are able to rehabilitate to the extent that they do not pose a serious risk for recurrence. Predators who sexually abuse adults are a rarity among clergy offenders, but they cause tremendous harm. Characteristically, they invite sexual involvements with numerous victims, leaving emotional and spiritual devastation in their wake. They are manipulative and can be very convincing and charming. They often have gifts of intellect, and may be charismatic leaders. They may exacerbate the harm they have caused by claiming they are the real “victim” and seeking support from their followers, thus stirring anger and confusion in the faith community. Predators have very poor prognosis for rehabilitation and pose a continuous risk for re-offence. The most severe sanctions in church policies addressing clergy sexual misconduct are reserved for the predators.
Mary Wells Toronto, Ont.