U.S. bishops hear Canadian financial appeal

By on September 1, 2003

The Canadian church’s financial resources have been depleted by residential schools litigation, Archbishop Michael Peers told the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) General Convention, in a presentation that was both educational and served as a request for contributions. “We are establishing a restoration fund to rebuild the financial resource base that funds mission in Canada and overseas,” said Archbishop Peers, the Canadian primate, in his July 31 presentation to more than 100 current and retired ECUSA bishops. “This is the single area in which we are inviting the financial participation of other provinces of the Anglican Communion.” Archbishop Peers made the address at the beginning of the General Convention, held in Minneapolis from July 30 to Aug. 8. He said he had a warm reception from the bishops, who gave him a standing ovation. (Unlike Canada’s General Synod, where bishops, clergy and laity sit together, bishops meet separately from General Convention’s clergy and lay delegates. However, proceedings are broadcast to all attendees.) Last May, the ECUSA’s executive council, which governs the church between General Conventions, discussed the possibility of a $1 million US gift to the Canadian church. The matter will be taken up again at the council’s regular fall meeting. Archbishop Peers also noted that the Canadian church has maintained, for more than a decade, a fund dedicated to healing and reconciliation with aboriginal peoples in Canada that supports counseling programs and other projects that strengthen native culture and language. In a later interview, Archbishop Peers said that he has already received a gift to the Canadian church from one American diocese, which he declined to identify. He also said he anticipates contributions from outside Canada would be used for the financial restoration of the national office and dioceses and for the aboriginal healing fund. In his presentation, he provided a brief review of the history of the Anglican Church of Canada’s involvement with the Indian residential school system, which operated from the early 19th century into the 1970s. The Anglican church ran 26 of the 80 schools. Beginning in the early 1990s, lawsuits were filed against the federal government and the churches, seeking damages for incidents of physical and sexual abuse in the schools. The cost of settlements and of ongoing litigation threatened to bankrupt the church?s national office and several dioceses. The diocese of Cariboo in British Columbia ceased operations in 2001 due to litigation costs. Last fall, the Canadian church and the federal government agreed that the church’s liability would be capped at $25 million. All 30 dioceses and General Synod have agreed to contribute to the settlement fund.

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  • Solange DeSantis

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

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