Home Christian News ACCtoo Calls Anglican Church of Canada to Repent for Mishandling Abuse Allegations

ACCtoo Calls Anglican Church of Canada to Repent for Mishandling Abuse Allegations

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Logos for #ACCtoo, left, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Courtesy images

(RNS) — In 2021, Cydney Proctor had spent more than a decade seeking justice for the repeated sexual misconduct she alleges she experienced at the hands of three leaders in the Anglican Church of Canada in the dioceses of Brandon, Ontario, and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island beginning when she was 17. For years, she tried to go through formal church channels, reporting the allegations to several bishops and ACC leaders, but had gotten nowhere.

“I didn’t need to name names, but I wanted to do something in my power to change the broken policies within the church and its disciplinary system,” said Proctor, now 31 and living in Nova Scotia.

In January 2021, Proctor began talks with the Anglican Journal — the ACC’s national newspaper — about an article that would share how the church had mishandled her allegations, as well as the allegations of two other survivors.

Not long after, a draft of the story was leaked to the institutions and dioceses implicated in the survivors’ stories.

The breach of trust sparked the creation of ACCtoo, a group of anti-abuse advocates who were stirred by Proctor’s story to take up her cause. On Feb. 17, 2022, ACCtoo published an open letter to ACC leaders asking the church to repent for harming Proctor and the other survivors and asked for signatures. As of Wednesday (March 2), 228 individuals, including a bishop, three archdeacons and a significant number of other ACC clergy, had signed the letter.

Cydney Proctor. Courtesy photo

      Cydney Proctor. Courtesy photo

The Rev. Heather Liddell, rector at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Edmonton, Alberta, told Religion News Service that her ordination vows meant that not signing the letter wasn’t an option. She pointed to the Anglican Church in Canada’s history of repentance for its Indigenous residential schools as evidence that the ACC is capable of genuine repentance for wrongdoing.

“We are a church that repents and that turns back to God,” said Liddell. “I need us to still be that.”

“Without transparency and accountability, the credibility of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Journal cannot be repaired,” the letter says.

The Anglican Church of Canada, rooted in the Church of England, was until 1832 the established church of the country. Today its 30 dioceses, which include roughly 360,000 members, according to 2017 data, are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s 44 churches. The ACC has long supported the ordination of women, and some of its dioceses have recognized same-sex marriage.

In spring 2021, preparation of the Anglican Journal article was going according to plan. To protect survivors from backlash, Anglican Journal staff agreed that the article wouldn’t name the people or institutions implicated in their stories and would use pseudonyms for two of the three survivors. The newspaper also told survivors they could review the story before publication.

Matthew Townsend was editor of the Anglican Journal at the time. “I thought that we could be of service to church and to victims of sexual misconduct and violence,” he told RNS.

As journalist Joelle Kidd drafted the story, Townsend was on parental leave for the birth of his daughter. It wasn’t until he returned to the office on May 10 that he realized something had gone wrong.