Engaged in the prevention of sexual abuse for more than 20 years, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is among the pioneers of the religious world in this area. The Bishops of Canada continue to be pro-active in developing diocesan measures by which each Bishop, in his respective diocese, not only responds to the cases brought to his attention but also ensures secure pastoral environments for minors as well as for volunteers and personnel involved in pastoral ministry.Over the past two decades, Canadian Bishops have:
Issued guidelines to assist dioceses in addressing this problem. Although more than 23 years have passed since its publication, From Pain to Hope remains a key reference for diocesan policies.
Continued to investigate solutions by calling on experts in this area, including specialists in child psychology and others who work with young people and children on a regular basis. The expertise, interventions and resources developed by other institutions also assist the Bishops in developing their own policies.
Continued to improve selection criteria, supervision and mentoring in seminaries since 1990. Together with other institutions – including day-care centres, schools and sports organizations – a responsible approach has been taken to ensure that children can be safe in their surroundings.
The Bishops have affirmed in word and in their actions that sexual abuse will not be accepted. Together with all other responsible citizens, the Bishops respect the civil laws and fully collaborate with civil authorities in sexual abuse inquiries. The Church follows the same laws as any other social institution. Canadian dioceses have mechanisms in place and they work well. Priests who are accused of sexual abuse are relieved of their public duties when an investigation is underway. At the heart of all diocesan measures is the protection of children and the public.
The Bishops are determined that Catholic communities will not be places for sexual abuse. Church personnel who have committed these reprehensible errors are a minority and should be brought to justice. There have been cases of sexual abuse, yet at the same time the Bishops also wish recognition to be given to:
The dedicated and extraordinary work of priests who have dedicated their lives to the service of others
The commitment of lay people in responding to Christ’s call
Young people who are finding meaning to life.
Resources being used by Canadian Bishops
Following a lengthy period of serious reflection, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 1992 published From Pain to Hope, a report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Child Sexual Abuse, which can be found by clicking here. Concacan Inc. holds copyright on this report. For reproduction of any of its material, permission is necessary from the Publications Service of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In 2003, a Special Taskforce was created by the Bishops of Canada to review From Pain to Hope. Its report was received in September 2005 at an annual meeting of the CCCB.
Following the revision of From Pain to Hope, the CCCB in fall of 2007 published a document of Orientations to assist Catholic dioceses in Canada in updating their diocesan protocols for the prevention of sexual abuse.