from Bishop James D. Cruickshank to clergy and parishioners in the Diocese of Cariboo, British Columbia
Sept. 7, 1999
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ:
For some time now we have been waiting to hear the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s decision regarding liability for abuse which took place at St. George’s Residential School in Lytton over 30 years ago. We need to be reminded that the case was not whether or not abuse took place. The plaintiff in this case was abused when he was a child and we are deeply saddened by what happened to him and how it affected his whole life. The case was about clarification regarding liability.
On August 30, we received the judgment for the case in which the Diocese of Cariboo, The Anglican Church of Canada and the federal government were defendants. The court’s decision was that the plaintiff is entitled to damages against all defendants. The church was found at fault in negligence at 60 per cent and the federal government at 40 per cent. The church was also found to be responsible to the plaintiff for breach of fiduciary duty.
It is important in the months ahead that we not overreact to the court decision and that we hold together as a diocese. Our work will go forward and we will remain strong. We need to know that, while the future of our assets are unclear, what is clear is that our ministry will continue. We will gather around an altar in every parish, the gospel of Jesus Christ will be proclaimed and our ministry to those inside and outside of the church will go on.
At the present time, we are looking at a number of options and what this will mean financially. We do know that it will have implications for our future as a diocese. Please be assured that we will keep in touch with each parish at every step of the way.
We need to remember that we are not alone in all of this. Indeed, our diocesan situation is not as grave as the situation we are facing as part of the national church. Other dioceses are also facing very serious situations. For example, the Diocese of Qu’Appelle has two hundred cases in which they have been named along with the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Throughout this process, we have received incredible support from our Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, our General Secretary, Archdeacon James Boyles and from our Metropolitan, Archbishop David Crawley. We have received assurance of prayers and support from all across the Canadian church. This whole situation has made us deeply aware that we are part of a wonderful family of Anglicans throughout Canada.
As I think and pray about the situation which is before us, I have the image of a house which is being renovated. While the renovation is taking place, there is a lot of stress, confusion, and disruption. However, in the end, everything seems to come together. Some of the things which are familiar to us now will no doubt change. But I believe, as a result of all of this, our church will be stronger than ever.
The most important thing I want to say to you in this pastoral letter is that while the shape of the diocese might change, each congregation will remain and be served by your priest. In a recent conference call, Archbishop David Crawley stated that our intention and focus must be on the support of each parish in the Diocese of Cariboo. The holding together of each parish will receive our primary attention.
I know the situation we are facing will draw us even closer together and that we have the leadership within us to face whatever lies ahead. In the meantime, we need to uphold each other in prayer. I am given strength by the word which was given to Joshua as he faced an uncertain future. “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1: 9) We will move towards the future in the confidence that God is with us and that God reigns.
Your friend and Bishop,
The Rt. Rev. James D. Cruickshank
Bishop of Cariboo