1995 Diocesan Guidelines on sexual abuse

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Computer glitches today so I’m runinng behind.

But, here it is:  the 1995 Diocesan Guidelines on Sexual Abuse by Priests, Deacons, Seminarians and Pastoral.

Accoring to testimony at the inquiry these guidelines were commissioned by Bishop Eugene Larocque sometime in 1994. They were finalized in June 1995.  Larocque appointed Father (now Monsignor) Denis Vaillancourt,who thinks sexual abuse of young boys is no big deal if the boys are post-pubescent, to head the committee.

Committee members were:  William George Carriere (Children’s Aid Society), Detective Sergeant Ian Grant (Ontario Provincial Police),  Rick Trew (Cornwall Police Services) and Reverend Gordon Findley (First Baptist Church minister). 

I have linked to the document so you can see it as is.  Below I have presented it with my comments and questions inserted in italics. 

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Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall
 
Diocesan Guidelines on Sexual Abuse by Priests, Deacons, Seminarians and Pastoral Assistants
 
Phase I – Receiving a complaint
 
The first person receiving a complaint has to report it immediately to the Children’s Aid Society, if the victim is under 16 years of age at the time of the offence, or to the police. The person receiving the complaint should not accept nor withhold any material proof. He writes personal notes about the reception of the complaint.

[Comment: The wording is unclear.  Does this mean the requirement to report immediatley is to either CAS or police?  Or does it mean report to CAS if the victim is under sixteen at the time of the offense and to police if the victim was older at the time? I don’t know.

Phase II – Informing the Bishop of the Diocese
 
The Bishop is informed of the complaint that was received.

Phase III – Investigation by the proper authority
 
This phase is the responsibility of the C.A.S. and the police in regards to any charges.

[Comment:  Why is there no stated intent by the diocese to conduct an internal canonical investigation?]
 
Phase IV – Decision of the Bishop
 
The Bishop waits for the investigation to take place. If the situation warrants it, (because there is a risk to the alleged aggressor, or the possibility of a risk to other members of the community, because the events have become public, because charges will be laid, because a trial will take place) the Bishop removes the suspected aggressor from Church duties.

[Comment:  “The bishop waits.” Why?  Why are he and his canon lawyers not busy getting to the bottom of the allegations themselves?  He doesn’t need to “wait.”

And, from a purely Catholic perspective, why would any bishop worth his salt  “wait” knowing that children may well be at risk and that a priest who may well be a disgrace to the priesthood and a scandal to the Church is hearing confessions, giving spiritual guidance, and offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

That aside, notice the big IF : “IF the situation warrants it he will remove the ‘alleged aggressor…’ 

And then note the number one situation which would prompt him to act: “there is a risk to the alleged aggressor.” 

Amazing. It’s not children who rank first, it’s suspect paedophiles!

Then note the change in language when it comes to children, who definitely are at risk when a paedophile is on the loose.  

The word “children” is nowhere to be found.

The best the guidelines offer for children therefore is a promise that the “alleged aggressor” will be removed IF the bishop deems there is “the possibility of a risk to other members of the community.”

“The possibility of a risk”

Possibility? 

With paedophiles?

What can I say?

So, back to language:  “alleged aggressor” and “suspect aggressor.” 

What’s an aggressor?  Why this evasive language?

Why not language which at least comes close to defining the problem at hand, i.e,  paedophile, molester, homosexual-paedophile, pederast, child molester, or at the very least, sexual predator?

And finally, what can I say about a bishop who might finally be motivated to protect the children of his flock from a suspect paedophile because, and only because, word has leaked into the pulblic domain that a priest has sexually abused a child?  or because he’s successfully managed to cover-up the allegations to date but can do so no longer because, and only because, charges are about to be laid and the word will be out?

Yes, I understand that the allegations have to be proven and could be false, but I also understand there are some risks which aren’t worth the taking, and it seems to me leaving children in the path of a suspect child molester is right at the top. 

   
Phase V – Offering to help
 
Depending on the circumstances, help and support is offered to the alleged victim and his family, taking into consideration the guidelines given by the C.A.S. and the police.
 
N.B.  These guidelines have been drawn up in consultation with the C.A.S. of Cornwall and both the O.P.P. and Cornwall Police.

[Comment:  What “circumstances” might warrant help and support?  Does the latter relate at all to provision of counselling and/or financial support in exchange for silence?
 
Approved by: (signed Eugene LaRocque)
Date: June (day can’t be made out), 1995

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What in the name of all that’s good and holy is going? Yes, if indeed every allegation is reported to police that’s a good.  But why would anyone think it’s benefical to leave a suspect paedophile in the sanctuary?  Who benefits?

Is this the best a Roman Catholc priest, a Children’s Aid Society executive, two police officers and a Baptist minister can do to protect our children?

Enough for now,

Sylvia

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3 Responses to 1995 Diocesan Guidelines on sexual abuse

  1. Myomy says:

    As I read your commentary on the Diocesan Abuse Guidelines it reminded me of the criticism given by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz on the US bishops zero tolerance policy that they had not included bishops in the listing of possible abusers saying: “The only group of Church employees for whom the Dallas Charter protection program did not establish standards of behaviour was the bishops themselves.” Perhaps they would respond that bishops are included in the mention of priests but this is a significant omission because there are many cases where the bishops do not apply the same policy to themselves as they do to the priests. The top offender gets the most protection!

    For more on this:

    An interview with Stephen Brady of RCF:

  2. Sylvia says:

    Interesting.

    Could you send the url please so we can all take a look at the interview?
    Sylvia

  3. Sylvia says:

    Thanks Myomy.
    An informative radio interview. However I have decided not to post it because I feel it moves beyond the issues of Cornwall and deals exclusively with the internal problems of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Cornwall certainly has a strong Catholic dimension due to the involvement of the diocese and the fact that so many of the alleged molesters are/were Roman Catholic, but a number of those impacted by the scandal are not.

    So, …as much as I and many others personally have a deep interest in the subject matter I decided that I don’t want the site and blog to become a forum for airing and attempting to solve the problems within the Church.

    I will however forward the link to those I now would be interested.

    Thanks, and keep blogging….
    Sylvia

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