A new report released by Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has uncovered numerous cases of sexual abuse dating back to the 1950s – with many of the incidents involving children.
In total, the report found 36 cases of sexual abuse since 1950 that the Archdiocese was aware of – with 26 of those involving minors.
Three of the priests found guilty in the report also fathered children.
In the report, Archbishop Michael Miller writes that over the past year, “we have studied and learned more than ever before about the pain suffered by you, victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse in our Archdiocese.”
Addressing victims of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese, Miller says he realizes that “no expression of regret can repair the horror of what happened.”
Globally, it has taken the Catholic Church “far too long to address its particularly devastating consequences when that abuse is perpetrated by a priest, whom the faithful hold in a position of trust,” he writes. “Although nothing can undo the wrong that was done to you, I nonetheless wish to offer each of you my heartfelt apology for the trauma, the violation in body and soul, and the sense of betrayal and abandonment by the Church that you feel.”
- See also:
He writes that for the occasions “when we failed to protect you or when we were more concerned with the Church’s reputation than with your suffering, I am truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness as I strive to make amends and bind your wounds.”
Now is the time, he writes, “to address more fully what we…can do to respond better to the needs of victims of abuse, as well as improve our policies and procedures that have been in place for many years.”
An initial step in this commitment was the formation in October 2018 of an Archdiocesan Case Review Committee, he furthers.
This committee was charged with conducting “a prospective review of cases involving the abuse of children and adults by clergy and to assess the effectiveness, identify gaps, and make recommendations for the improvement of the RCAV’s policies, practices, and procedures in this context.”
Over a nine-month period the committee “conscientiously carried out their mandate of reviewing cases from 1950 to the present,” writes Miller. “Bearing this review in mind, the Committee made 31 recommendations that were presented to me in mid-July.”
The recommendations include actions such as publishing a list of clergy who have been convicted, establishing an “Intake Office” for complaints staffed by individuals specifically trained to deal with the complexities of clergy sexual abuse, and establishing policies and procedures that protect and encourage individuals who come forward with information.
For clergy who have been convicted, the report makes recommendations to remove any who work with children from “active ministry.” It adds, “Clerics and seminarians should receive training with regard to appropriate boundaries and skills in situations where they are required to offer spiritual and pastoral counsel.”
With the release of the report, Miller writes that going forward “our task is to work together to eliminate the scourge of abuse and to ensure that our Church, as a loving mother, is a safe place especially for the young and the vulnerable, the protection of whose God-given dignity is entrusted to us.”