Magazine article Anglican Journal

Time of Crisis Is Not the Time to Deliberate in Secrecy

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Time of Crisis Is Not the Time to Deliberate in Secrecy

Article excerpt

JOURNALIST know that a story is never told as effectively as by someone who was there. Interviewing witnesses, making phone calls, reconstructing events -- these are de facto essential tools of the trade, and yet they are always second best. There are nuances to events than can never be recaptured after the fact; there is the body language of the participants, there are tones of voice and glances, there is laughter, there is silence. Reading something about an event that went unwitnessed, talking to participants after the fact, these techniques might well provide the body of what happened, but they seldom recapture the soul.

That is the reason why the Journal's reports on the recent meeting of the Council of General Synod which are published in this edition must be deemed incomplete.

A full half-day of this three-day meeting was spent in a closed session during which members of the council discussed the residential schools crisis. After a motion to move in camera was passed (almost, but not quite unanimously), it was explained that staff attending the meeting could remain, but that "the press" were to leave. This effectively excluded journalists from the Anglican Journal and no one else.

A few weeks before the meeting of CoGs, the house of bishops met and also discussed residential schools, again in camera. That meeting consisted of lawyers reporting to the bishops on certain situations. The lawyers themselves counseled a closed session on the grounds that were outsiders to attend, it might violate or be deemed a waiver of solicitor-client privilege. This was a legitimate concern. Once waived, solicitor-client privilege cannot be reclaimed.

There was, however, no such issue at CoGs. CoGS effectively is a subcommittee of General Synod. It is the body of people that governs in between full sessions of General Synod. It is comprised of about 40 people from most of the 30 dioceses, and includes bishops, clergy and lay people. These people gather twice a year to serve the church, to develop policy and direction, to give guidance to staff, to approve budgets, to vision about the future. It is no inconsequential body.

The rationale for CoGS discussing residential schools in camera was that members would be freer to express themselves away from media scrutiny. After the closed session, a report was presented in open session on what had transpired. …

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