December 13, 2018


Bishops from across Canada and/or their representatives and others experts gathered at the Chancery of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg to discuss and deal with the tragic issue that has rocked the Catholic world - the abuse of minors by clergy. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a new document on the question, entitled, "Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation and Transformation". All eparchies, dioceses and religious/monastic communities now want to be certain that their policies that regard abuse with the goal of ensuring a safe environment are updated to conform with the decision of the Canada's Bishops.

The Archbishop of Winnipeg, Most Rev. Lawrence Huculak, as the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan of Canada, organized and hosted a full-day initial workshop for all the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of Canada and all the major religious orders, as well as the newly relocated Seminary in Edmonton. Bishops that were able to, attended, others sent delegates, while the seminary rector and the major superiors of the major orders or their delegates also attended.

The group began by hearing a great deal of information to more fully understand the question at hand and the many challenges. Representatives from insurance providers spoke about what they considered to be due diligence in providing a truly "safe environment" in parishes and at any church-related event or facility. Experience was shared by a representative of the St. Boniface Archdiocese as to the extensive program that they now have in place and a very new training program that may be adapted for use in the eparchies around Canada. Metropolitan-Emeritus of Philadelphia, M. Rev. Stefan Soroka, was on hand to describe the experience and recent practices within the dioceses and eparchies of the United States. The Chancellor or the Archeparchy of Winnipeg also made a summary presentation of the new above-mentioned Bishops' document on minor abuse.

The various presentations also included a great deal of Q&A where everyone was able to seek clarifications in particular matters. Not surprisingly, there was not always a clear solution to every question or to every scenario or situation. This is what a working group will try to address in the coming weeks. All the eparchies and religious orders already had a "safe environment policy", at least since the early 1990s. However, now in the light of the new document, they will all revisit their policies and protocols and update them to conform with the new requirements posed recent developments in civil and canon law. More than that, the Bishops want to implement a much better awareness and more comprehensive training program and procedure to prevent any sort of abuse on the part of clergy or of any parish volunteer or employee.

The CCCB document and the Bishops as a whole, agree that they can and will achieve a better assurance of a safer environment for all minors and otherwise vulnerable people within their parishes communities. It will take a renewed effort and ongoing vigilance on the part of clergy and everyone in the parish communities.

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