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ANCS - Anglican Church of Canada and government ready to settle
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:03:53 -0800
ACNS 3213 | CANADA | 2 DECEMBER 2002
Anglican Church of Canada and government ready to settle lawsuits
by James Solheim
[ENS] After years of controversy and faced with bankruptcy, the Anglican
Church of Canada has agreed to a deal with the Canadian government to share
the costs of thousands of lawsuits brought by Native students who claim that
they were abuse while attending residential schools.
Under the agreement, the church would contribute up to US$16 million and the
government would pay the rest. Total costs could reach US$1 billion.
About 12,000 of the 90,000 former students have filed claims alleging
physical or sexual abuse while in the boarding schools, owned by the
government but run by the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and United
Churches from the 1930s until most were closed by the mid-1970s.
Anglicans have been named in about 18 percent of the abuse cases while Roman
Catholics are named in 73 percent, United Church 8 percent and Presbyterians
1 percent. The agreement with the government includes only the Anglicans at
"The agreement preserves the financial integrity of the Anglican Church,"
said Ralph Goodale, the federal minister responsible for resolving the
claims. "Instead of meeting each other in court, Canada and the Anglican
Church can focus our efforts together to settle the thousands of outstanding
claims in a more supportive way for victims. This historic agreement allows
the government and church to move beyond the debate of who pays what."
Mr Goodale said that the "moral leadership shown by the Anglican Church in
accepting the responsibility to the former students of the Anglican
residential schools has opened the door to this agreement."
Archbishop Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said
that the US$16 million cap exceeds the assets of the national church and it
is likely that more wealthy dioceses will be asked to make contributions.
The agreement now goes to the 30 dioceses for ratification.
"It makes no sense to bankrupt us," Archbishop Peers said at a news
conference. "The minute we go bankrupt, the government has to pay 100 per
cent." He said that he had participated in "healing circles and heard of the
painful stories of abuse. By entering this agreement, we are saying that we
have heard those stories, that we acknowledge our tragic part in them."
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