On March 2 the Council of General Synod, the highest governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada, received an open letter from the victim of Mark MacDonald’s acknowledged sexual misconduct. This letter is not part of ACCtoo’s current or past work, but we believe you should see it. We invite you to read that letter first, and then Cydney Proctor’s letter of support below. Cydney is a survivor of sexual violence whose privacy was breached by the Primate’s office along with the privacy of two survivors who chose to remain anonymous.
To the Council of General Synod,
I write to you today, bemused. I truly thought it was not possible for me to be more disappointed in a church body than I was following the lack of response and action to the #ACCtoo movement I was a part of last year; but here we are, already troubled by the misconduct of Mark MacDonald and frankly the less surprising but more upsetting news of how the survivor was treated by General Synod.
My name is Cydney Proctor and I am the named survivor whose stories were told as part of #ACCtoo and signatory to the letter. You have heard from me before on these matters, and today I am writing once again. This time, I am reaching out to offer my full and unconditional love and support to the individual whose letter was received yesterday. I am so proud of them and their courage, strength and deep care for the church that they are asking you to save it. I truly don’t know if any of you can understand what it means to be so committed to an institution that has battered you repeatedly; you have been silenced and hurt and traumatized, and yet still wake up wanting better for the People of Christ and having faith in the mission set at your feet through the resurrection. We wake up and we look to our leaders for support, to amplify our voices and help us do the true work of the Gospel, calling out injustice and fighting for equity. What do we hear? The sad story of our abuser. The belittling of our feelings. The voices of the most powerful in the land calling repeated sexual violence “just an accident” or “a lapse of judgement.” We sit here, begging the church to be better, to stand behind its mission and we are left broken over and over again.
If this were a job a friend was working or a spouse a sibling had, you’d tell them to quit or leave. Pack a bag, make a plan, and get to safety. You would harbour them in your home perhaps or give them some food and a new cellphone number; ask around at your work about getting them a job – you would protect them from that person or environment and from that cycle. The church is an abusive boss, an abusive domestic partner. It beats us up in the name of an “accident” or “stress” and asks us to forgive them and come to bed, they didn’t mean it, they’ll do better. The church gives gifts to make up for their outburst – an updated harassment policy here, a listening group there, but then when we are feeling like maybe everything is ok, it happens again. Maybe not to me this time, but someone else. And the cycle begins again. So people go to the police, in this analogy, you, CoGS, and ask for help. And the “police” do nothing, because they’re friends with the person who abuses you. They have skin in the game and the skin is not the health and well being of people like me – the vulnerable, women and girls, indigenous folks, the students, the unhoused – the skin is money and power. So, with nowhere to go, you return home, to the same old cycle. Hoping for better, asking for better, and believing through Jesus and the sacraments there can be change. But here we are, one year later, having the same conversation.
Please consider how all of this has been handled in the last few years, decades, centuries. Pray about it. Reflect and ask yourselves how complicit you want to be in the harm that church perpetuates Every. Single. Day.
Respectfully and sincerely,