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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese

Dear Friends in Christ:

Last week’s announcement from the Anglican Church of Canada about Mark MacDonald’s admission of sexual misconduct, and his resignation as National Indigenous Archbishop, was a deeply painful moment for our Church. We share in the feelings of grief, sorrow and anger that have resulted from this revelation. We know that these events have far-reaching effects.

We want to express our deep concern for the one(s) who came forward to report this incident. It is an act of bravery to speak up and call out incidents of harm and abuse. We are grateful to all those who courageously break the silence. For all those who have been harmed by sexual misconduct, particularly in the Church, you are in our prayers.

Sexual misconduct is always unacceptable, and we denounce all acts of intimidation, coercion or force and any abuse of power. We acknowledge that, for both Christians and non-Christians alike, the Church carries high expectations for exemplary behaviour, based on relationships of love and mutual care. It injures the body of Christ when one of our members, especially a leader, falls short of God’s standards.

Over multiple generations, the Indigenous community has suffered severe abuse from the Church and its leaders. The breadth, depth and legacy of that abuse is continually being uncovered. We know that the impact has been intergenerational, with entire families and whole communities affected. Our Church has much for which we need to repent. Last week’s announcement was a fresh wound in our effort to heal. Yet, our Church is committed to the work of being able to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities. We are committed to seeking justice, building right relations and finding a new way forward. Despite this latest breach of trust, our commitment is firmer than ever.

We have a zero-tolerance Sexual Misconduct Policy in the Diocese of Toronto, in place since 2001 and reviewed and updated regularly. We want to extend the hand of care to all who are hurting at this time. If you are a victim of abuse, or have experienced sexual misconduct in our Church, please reach out to our Canon Pastor, the Rev. Canon John Anderson, toll-free at 1-844-807-2494. He and the members of the Diocesan Response Team are trained and ready to receive your call. If you are a Residential School survivor or any Indigenous person who is experiencing feelings of trauma or pain, please reach out to our Right Relations Coordinator, the Rev. Leigh Kern, or any of the staff at the Toronto Urban Native Ministry (TUNM) – they are ready to listen.

We know that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, arrives in Canada today to meet with First Nations and, in his own words, “to listen, to lament and to pray for justice, healing and transformation.” Now is certainly a time for careful listening and heartfelt prayer.

Please pray for God’s Grace at this deeply painful time.

Yours in Christ,

The College of Bishops
The Rev. Leigh Kern, Right Relations Coordinator, Diocese of Toronto