October 11, 2018 — On October 4, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) released its new policy on the prevention of sexual abuse. It’s really an update of their first policy on this topic, published in 1992, under tragic and dismal circumstances; namely, the pedophile scandal at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, NL.
In 2012 the Canadian Episcopal Conference created an ad hoc committee chaired by the Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth, AB Anthony Mancini. The committee was asked to update the policy of the Catholic Church of Canada concerning the prevention of sexual abuse and the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. In an interview with the agency Présence: information religieuse (french) in 2016, AB Mancini was quick to recall the perspective that directed the work of the committee, “This is not a document against sexual abuse. It is a document that makes the protection of young people an essential responsibility of the bishops as part of their responsibility for the Gospel and the Church.” Nevertheless, the development of these directives was a very long process, because of the exhaustive nature of the episcopal document. Hence, the very long delay of six years in editing, revising and releasing the document.
Titled Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation, the CCCB document is available on the website of the episcopal conference. One can find there a bibliography as well as 69 recommendations concerning the prevention of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons. Also presented are directives aimed at preventing abuse, punishing sexual misconduct, supporting victims, and promoting transparency in the matter of pedophilia and sexual abuse.