Magazine article Anglican Journal

Primate See `Profound Hope' in Troubling Times

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Primate See `Profound Hope' in Troubling Times

Article excerpt


I write to share something of this moment in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada. In this troubling time we are faced with litigation so costly as to change radically our structures and our life as a national church. But the time is also profoundly hopeful; God leads us ever deeper into the path of healing and new life.

Simply put: resulting from abuse in the residential schools, there are over 1,600 claims of varying kinds brought against the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. About one hundred cases involve the proven abuse of children, and the perpetrators are in prison. The costs of litigation and settlements for these alone is sufficient to exhaust all the assets of the General Synod and of some dioceses involved.

What does this mean? For the national church, the way we presently carry out our mission will be modified. We are negotiating with the federal government in order to find alternatives to litigation by which we can make a just contribution to compensation. We will know in a few months if an agreement is possible. However, whether or not this is achievable, we will be a very different Church.

Where in this do I discern hope? At the heart of it, we trust God is with us in the choices we face, that we will find new ways to carry out our shared mission and that we will continue to work for healing and reconciliation.

Healing and reconciliation is our first and clearly affirmed goal. Both the Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops gave it the strongest possible support in meetings earlier this month. The legacy of the schools has been deeply wounding. Healing never happens if we ignore the wounds. The first step is truth-telling -- recognizing and acknowledging past failures. The Anglican Church of Canada collaborated with the Government of Canada in a policy that brought pain to many individuals and despair in many communities. That injury continues into the present. We have an obligation, and a will born of our desire to be just, to account for past injustice.

Healing also requires being prepared to turn and walk in a different direction. Indeed repentance means "turning around." The wounds of past prejudices, injustices and broken trust will never be healed unless we "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being." Ever since the General Synod of 1969 set us in a new direction, aboriginal and non-aboriginal Anglicans have been learning to walk together in a different way. …

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