Statement from House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada
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Wed May 9 01:22:04 EDT 2001
Statement from the House of Bishops to members of the Anglican Church
To the Members of The Anglican Church of Canada
The Bishops of the Church, meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario are
greatly disturbed by the inability of the federal government to come to
agreement with the churches which were involved in the operation of
Indian Residential Schools. Talks with the Deputy Prime Minister, the
Honourable Herb Gray begun in September 2000, appear stalled.
Already, the Diocese of Cariboo has taken steps that may lead to its
dissolution by October. Eight other dioceses are bearing the heavy
costs of litigation and some will be facing financial crisis soon. The
General Synod has told the government that its assets will be exhausted
before the end of the year. Institutional change seems inevitable, and
steps will need to be taken in the near future to ensure an orderly
change. We write to assure you that regardless of what happens to the
institutional structures of the church, the spirit and life of the
church will continue and flourish.
We also assure you that all contributions from the dioceses to the
General Synod have been used, and will continue to be used, solely for
the ongoing mission of the church, not for litigation.
We, as leaders of the Church remain committed to the pursuit of justice
for those whose lives have been damaged by abuse at the schools. We
remain committed to the ministry of healing among the indigenous
peoples of Canada; however, if the continuing aggression of the
Department of Justice forces our General Synod into bankruptcy, this
and many other ministries will be disrupted.
We regret that the federal government has not faced squarely its major
and primary role in promoting the policy of assimilation of the First
Nations peoples, and its major responsibility for the policy and
operations of the residential schools system. In spite of statements by
several cabinet ministers that it is not the intention of the
government to force the churches into bankruptcy, it seems that, by
inaction, it is doing exactly that. We have written to the Prime
Minister urging speedy resolution of the issues between the churches
and the government, so that justice may be served more expeditiously,
and the churches may continue their ministries without the massive
drain of financial resources for litigation.
We urge Anglicans to continue to pray for all those involved in this
work, and particularly for those who attended the schools and are
seeking to rebuild their lives.
Finally, we commit ourselves, whatever the outcome, to nurture and lead
the Anglican family through these difficult times, always seeking the
will of Christ and the well-being of Christ's Church.
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