What's next for ACCtoo?
On March 26 we launched Before You Report, a guide for anyone considering reporting abuse, assault, or misconduct in the Anglican Church of Canada. As our capacities allow we are working on other resources and consulting with an ethnographer about the prospect of an anonymous national survey.
Why did you close the letter on June 6?
On May 10 we learned that Primate Linda Nicholls had told CBC that there would be no response to our letter’s calls for action. After deliberating carefully, we decided to stop collecting signatures on Pentecost Sunday, June 6.
I signed, why isn't my name listed?
We asked all signees to list an affiliation with the Anglican Church of Canada. If your affiliation was incomplete or unclear, we emailed you for more information. If you did not receive an email, check your spam or junk mail folder, and if you can’t find anything, please contact us. Although the open letter is now closed, we can still add signatures submitted before June 6.
Why did you let [this person] sign the letter?
We try to bar anyone accused of misconduct from signing our letter, but unfortunately there is no public list. If you spot a name on our open letter that shouldn’t be there, click here to send us a confidential message.
Have your action items been answered?
No. We discuss the status of our 3 calls to action in our March 18 response to the Council of General Synod. In short,
1. The Primate has not released the investigative report to a representative chosen by the survivors;
2. The church official who has been identified as circulating the draft, General Secretary Alan Perry, has not resigned;
3. An apology that confesses wrongdoing has not been published in the Anglican Journal.
Are you representing [this person]?
Tragically, in the Anglican Church of Canada there are many survivors of sexual violence. Please do not assume or speculate as to the identity of the survivors we represent. If you know a survivor, let them control their story and decide how you can best support them.
Are you asking the Primate to resign?
Now that General Synod has identified General Secretary Alan Perry as being responsible for the breach, we can confirm that he is the church official we are asking to resign in our open letter.
Are you trying to ‘cancel’ people?
When we wrote the open letter, we knew the identity of the church official responsible for the breach, but we did not name them. We believe they should have the right to future employment in roles where they do not oversee journalists or have access to the private information of survivors.
When the General Synod released the summary response to the investigation report, they identified the General Secretary as responsible for sharing the draft. Since that information is now public, we can confirm he is the official we are asking to resign, but we have left the text of our open letter unchanged.
Wasn’t sharing the draft with the institutions involved just fact-checking?
We understand the aim of the story was to address cultural issues of how sexual misconduct complaints are adjudicated within the church. The hope was to prompt meaningful conversations about retraumatization in the complaint experience. As such, we believe the plan was to strip as much identifying detail from the story as possible—about survivors, perpetrators, and institutions. However, because the draft that was shared was an early draft, there was still identifying information that had not been reviewed by the survivors.
Fact-checking stories is the responsibility of journalists and editors, not the management of a church office. If the management of General Synod had any concerns about accuracy, they could have asked the journalist, the acting editor, or the editor-on-leave to pursue fact checking on the story. We understand that request was never made; rather, the General Secretary chose to do the “fact checking” himself. We believe this action was made not only without consultation, but in contradiction of assurances that the draft would not be shared.
In other words, the General Secretary stepped into the role of journalist on a story involving not only confidential sources but also survivors of sexual violence. In making this choice, he set aside the privacy of the sources and the professional expertise of the journalists involved. The result was a serious breach of trust, confidentiality, and journalistic ethics. We cannot imagine an approach less safe and more irresponsible than turning an in-development draft over to the four institutions, telling them it’s about them, and asking for their thoughts.
Didn’t they mean well?
Likely! Christian leaders can be approachable, easy-going, friendly, generous, well-meaning, “nice” – and do terrible things. An attractive personality is no guarantee of good behaviour, and good intentions are compatible with evil actions. What prevents abuse in the church is character, culture, and consequences. All we can do from the pews is ask for consequences, with the hope that changes to culture and character will follow.
Is this true?
To the best of our knowledge, yes. Everything in the letter has been confirmed by multiple sources, including sources inside General Synod. We hope a fuller picture will be provided by the investigation report, but we do not anticipate any material changes to what we say here.
Some responses to the letter have referenced “misrepresentations” and mentioned “recollections of specific details differ,” but to date no one has said what these misrepresentations or details may be. Nevertheless, we continue to welcome private or public corrections of anything in our open letter or on our website.
Is this necessary?
Yes. Private entreaties through intermediaries have been rebuffed, and we are not aware of any consequences resulting from the investigation. There are no higher ecclesial authorities to which an appeal could be made, and we have no appetite for using the legal system.
Are you trying to hurt the church?
No. A senior church official damaged the church when they chose to breach the trust of survivors. Entirely independent from our letter, many people have become aware of his actions, which has further reinforced a culture of silence in the church. This culture discourages survivors from reporting misconduct, because they have every reason to expect cover-ups, and disheartens all those who would try to make the church more just. Without clear remedies, abuses will continue, and the church cannot become the safe place it is called to be.
Who can sign the letter?
We are seeking signatures from parishioners, current and retired clergy and deacons, current and retired bishops and archdeacons, and current and former staff members of all Anglican Church of Canada churches and institutions. If you’re not sure if you ‘count’, please contact us to ask!
When will the letter be sent?
A copy of the open letter was delivered to the Primate, the General Secretary, the members of the Council of General Synod, and the members of the Editorial Board of the Anglican Journal on March 2, 2022. We continue to add signatures to the online version of the letter. To sign the letter, please click here.