FW: First BC Church Goes Under From Native Sexual Abuse Suits

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Tue Jun 19 16:43:22 MDT 2001


Note: these same churches that have claimed that the lawsuits for
Residential School horrors will drive them into bankruptcy (financial, they
are already morally bankrupt) all of a sudden have come up with their own $2
billion "Healing Fund". Conditions for survivors to get any money:
1) can never sue in the future; 2) sealed agreement including the amounts of
settlement, the nature of crimes suffered, by whom the crimes were committed
and where; this is simply a "hush-money/cover-up fund.


>
> October 16, 2000
>
> B.C. churches told to list assets
>
> Richard Foot
> National Post
>
> QUESNEL, B.C. - Federal lawyers have asked Anglican
> churches in British
> Columbia to provide a list of jewels and paintings they
> own as a means
> of recouping the cost of residential school lawsuits
> against the
> government.
>
> Ottawa's request was revealed here this weekend as the
> Diocese of
> Cariboo voted to wind up operations and declare
> bankruptcy within 12
> months, after being forced into financial ruin by sexual
> abuse lawsuits
> filed by former students of a native residential school.
> The diocese is
> the first Christian organization in Canada to fall as a
> result of the
> thousands of lawsuits brought against Ottawa and various
> churches.
>
> Bud Smith, the diocesan chancellor, or lawyer, to priests
> and delegates
> from 17 parishes who gathered this weekend to consider
> their future,
> said government lawyers have asked him to detail what
> jewellery and art
> the diocese has among its assets.
>
> "I don't know what kind of paintings you've got
> squirrelled away in your
> basements," Mr. Smith told a room of church delegates
> this weekend, who
> proposed sending children's paintings from Sunday school
> classes to
> Ottawa. "The only jewellery we have is the Bishop's ring,
> and one would
> hope the government won't take the Bishop's ring."
>
> Despite the anger and weariness of Anglicans here, there
> is hope the
> Church will rise up out of bankruptcy in renewed form --
> even if their
> buildings are sold and people are forced to worship in
> school classrooms
> or private homes.
>
> "We're not toast, we're yeast," declared buttons worn by
> the faithful
> this weekend.
>
> "Spiritually, we may be yeast," said Mr. Smith, a former
> B.C.
> attorney-general. "But financially, we are toast. The
> Diocese of Cariboo
> is broke. That's the cold, hard truth of the matter."
>
> Together with the national arm of the Anglican Church and
> the federal
> government, the Diocese of Cariboo has been named as a
> defendant in
> lawsuits brought by 15 former students of a residential
> school in
> Lytton, B.C. Anglicans managed the school until 1969 on
> behalf of the
> federal government. In 1998, both groups were found
> "vicariously liable"
> for the sexual abuse committed against students there by
> a dormitory
> supervisor, who was convicted in an earlier criminal
> trial.
>
> The Church was ordered to pay 60%, the government 40%, of
> an estimated
> $200,000 settlement to Floyd Mowatt, the first plaintiff.
> The remaining
> cases are still before the courts. Of the 15 plaintiffs,
> only Mr. Mowatt
> and two others have directly sued the Church. Twelve sued
> only the
> federal government, which then chose to hold the Church
> liable in these
> cases by naming it as a third-party co-defendant.
>
> The national arm of the Church says it might go bankrupt
> some time next
> year as a result of these and other cases. The Diocese of
> Cariboo -- a
> small rural diocese of only 4,000 members spread across a
> vast section
> of the B.C. interior -- has already liquidated its cash
> investments to
> pay more than $350,000 in legal fees over the last three
> years. It is no
> longer being represented in lawsuits against it.
>
> Officials here say it is the first Anglican diocese in
> the Commonwealth
> to be sued into insolvency.
>
> The diocese's individual parishes, which have not been
> named in the
> suits, are still operating on their own budgets. But Jim
> Cruickshank,
> Bishop of Cariboo, says the financial uncertainty and the
> stigma of
> dealing with sexual abuse issues has wreaked havoc with
> Church
> operations throughout the region. Collection plate
> givings are down,
> favourite priests have left the diocese in recent months
> and some
> members have cut the Church from their wills.
>
> More importantly, Church law and custom requires parishes
> to unite
> within a diocese under the episcopal authority of a
> bishop. If the
> diocese disappears, it raises a number of questions,
> including how the
> parishes will function, who will ordain new ministers and
> who will
> confirm children.
>
> "Oh how I wish we could get rid of this litigation and
> get on with being
> a Church," said Bishop Cruickshank, who will lose his job
> as a result of
> the bankruptcy.
>
> The diocese's remaining assets are its church buildings,
> whose fate is a
> key factor in how the residential school struggle will
> unfold between
> the government and all the churches.
>
> Having named the diocese as a third-party defendant in
> many lawsuits,
> Ottawa will seek to recover liabilities from the Church
> as compensation
> in each case is awarded. The government is therefore the
> major creditor
> when the diocese declares bankruptcy. Justice Department
> lawyers have
> already produced a federal document that puts the total
> assessed value
> of the diocesan properties at $3,357,170.
>
> Mr. Smith says the government cannot have these Church
> buildings because
> the diocese holds title to the property in trust for the
> parishes. But
> he says federal lawyers believe the diocese owns the
> properties
> outright. If so, they could be liquidated in a bankruptcy
> proceeding.
> Ultimately, a court might have to decide.
>
> Throughout the weekend, emotions alternated between shame
> and sorrow for
> the Church's role in residential schools and a rising
> sense of anger
> that cherished Church buildings may be bulldozed as a
> result.
>
> "Churches in Cariboo are sacred places," said Rob Taylor,
> a member of
> St. Peter's Anglican Church in Williams Lake, B.C. "They
> are not garages
> or strip malls or even family businesses that have been
> passed from one
> generation to the next. They are the homes where the
> momentous events in
> our lives are celebrated."
>
> Others expressed hope the bankruptcy might allow the
> Church to come
> clean with its past, shed itself of physical distractions
> and focus on
> its core assets -- its people.
>
> "This is a liberating experience," said the Rev. Mark
> Lemon, a priest in
> Quesnel. "This is excising the poison from our veins."
>
> Added Bishop Cruickshank: "I believe God has looked at
> this old Anglican
> Church, this establishment Church and has said, 'I'm
> going to prune it a
> bit.' So we'll be pruned, and we'll grow back as a more
> compassionate
> Church. Because now we know what it feels like to be
> powerless."






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