Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, at their regular fall meeting, discussed the residential schools situation in open and closed sessions, considered whether bishops should be able to minister in another diocese and celebrated a new, closer relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada.
The bishops produced a statement reacting to a government announcement that it would pay 70 per cent of proven out-of-court settlements in residential schools cases. After a bit of wrangling over whether the statement should refer to an attempt at "assimilation" of native people, the concept was deleted.
In their statement, the bishops welcomed the government's announcement as a "first step toward an agreement that will enable us all to work together at restoring our society."
It also added: "The prolonged negotiations with the government and the continuing cost of litigation are wearing down both our capacity and our resolve to respond to need."
It said the church wants to compensate those who suffered specific abuse and can do that "if we can assure Anglicans that support for bringing this new vision into reality will not be used to pay litigation costs."
The bishops also asked Anglicans "to reach across cultural boundaries and build friendships with one another that together we may work for justice and healing."
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of General Synod, noted that the initial reaction to the government's move from the church's lawyers was "there's something here we can work with."
He noted that church and government negotiators held their sixth meeting in Ottawa Oct. 23-25 and reiterated the church's dissatisfaction with the legal process, noting that it is adversarial. "When we win, aboriginal people lose."
In a recent court decision, he said, 100 of 108 plaintiffs in Manitoba suing the Anglican church had their cases dismissed because of a 30-year statute of limitations. "Eight people got their claims in before the 30-year deadline. Aboriginal people in Manitoba are angry about that," he said. …