Earlier this week I joined over 300 Anglicans across Canada in signing ACCtoo’s open letter (if you haven’t read it, I would recommend reading it before reading the rest of this post, you can find it at acctoo.ca/open-letter).
As a member of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) (one of the groups/people the letter is addressed to), I didn’t sign earlier because I wanted to see what CoGS’s response would be before signing, and it felt weird to be signing a letter that was technically addressed to me. But I can’t just sit back and keep quiet anymore. I can’t let the statement from CoGS (https://bit.ly/3L4pxmD) be the only thing coming from me on this. I want to publicly say that I did not support the CoGS reply to ACCtoo. I’m part of why the CoGS statement was “not unanimous”. I didn’t support it because it isn’t enough. We did not endorse the three calls to action in ACCtoo’s letter; we didn’t even address all of them.
The statement says, “As elected representatives from the Anglican Church across Canada, the members of the Council are determined to take action to right wrongs, when and where we can.” And yet, when it comes to endorsing calls to action by those seeking justice, we are doing nothing. That’s unacceptable.
As elected representatives from the Anglican Church across Canada, I believe it’s our duty to endorse the three calls to action.
It is our duty to ask that the unredacted findings of the investigation be released to a representative chosen by the survivors, without requiring that the survivors meet with the Primate to see the report from that investigation.
It is our sad duty to ask for the resignation of the General Secretary who breached confidentiality by sharing a draft article on sexual abuse with three dioceses and one school. (In the summary of the investigation report it was made public that the official who shared the draft of the Anglican Journal article was Alan Perry, the General Secretary. You can find that document here: https://bit.ly/3IEODXO).
It is our duty to ask for an apology to be published in the Anglican Journal that summarizes the investigation report, confesses wrongdoing, and presents a plan of action that is a worthy beginning of repentance.
I also want to publicly say that CoGS hasn’t been given reliable information by the Primate and the General Secretary through this process. CoGS’s statement says, “CoGS is assured that the written report of the independent investigator deals entirely with journalistic matters, and says absolutely nothing about the circumstances of the original complaints by the individuals.” With that information, CoGS recommended that that written report be given to the Editorial Board of the Anglican Journal, which it was. Sources on that Board have confirmed that an appendix of that report contains information about the original complaint of one of the survivors, information that was shared with that Board without the consent of that survivor. (One of the survivors has shared a youtube video talking about this latest breach that you can watch here: https://bit.ly/3tDR5JP)
This latest breach of confidentiality and the fact that CoGS was not told about that appendix when we were drafting our statement has resulted in serious broken trust between CoGS and the leadership of the national church.
We as a church must do better, we must protect survivors, and we must call for the resignation of those who not only aren’t protecting survivors but are breaching their confidentiality again and again.
If you haven’t already, I implore you to consider these two action requests from ACCtoo.
1: Contact your bishop – there is a list of bishops here: bit.ly/3txnem9. Ask them to tell General Synod leaders to stop doing this and hire a trauma-informed professional. ACCtoo wants to be consulted on who is hired and the details of their contract, so that they are responsible to all parties, not just the leadership of General Synod. We believe a professional can help everyone – because every step the leaders of General Synod take of their own accord is compounding the harm, retraumatizing the survivors, and damaging the church.
2. Share the letter. When the letter was delivered to CoGS, it had 228 signatures, and since then it has received almost 100 more. Many of you have discussed ACCtoo and shared the open letter with fellow Anglicans, and many were waiting to see how General Synod and CoGS would respond. Well, now we know. Ask those you know to weigh the responses (https://www.acctoo.ca/open-letter/responses/) to date, and judge who is seeking justice. And if they support our cause, invite them to sign. The hope is to reach 500 signatures by the end of April.
Now that I’ve broken my silence on this, I’m sure I will have more to say soon. I love the church; I want the church to come back from this and heal. My heart is broken over this. My heart is broken for the survivors whose confidentiality has been broken again and again. My heart breaks for all survivors in the church watching the leadership of the national church protecting the institution rather than listening to survivors and what they need.
I pray that justice will come. I pray that healing will come.