Catholic Priests In Montreal Banned From Being Alone With Children

Catholic priests in Montreal are now banned from being alone with children.

The ban comes after Archbishop Christian Lepine issued a decree on June 7 to implement the policy that also includes lay workers and volunteers. Read a portion of the decree below.

“In order to preserve the integrity, security, and good reputation of God’s people who are entrusted to us, of those who participate in our pastoral activities, of the paid and volunteer personnel, and of our institution, I hereby decree that that all the Parishes, Missions, and organizations of the Archdiocese are to implement the diocesan policy on Responsible Pastoral Ministry.”

“Furthermore, to implement this policy of Responsible Pastoral Ministry and to support the parishes and organizations in their efforts to put these measures in place, I am forming a new diocesan service called the Service of Responsible Pastoral Ministry.”

In an accompanying letter, Archbishop Christian Lepine elaborated on the new law and what prompted him to make the declaration.

“Recent events have brought to light the horrific reality of abuse of minors and vulnerable persons by members of the Church,” Lepine wrote. “These intolerable situations have shocked and shaken the Universal Church as well as the entire population to whom we wish to proclaim the Good News of Christ.”

He added, “At a time when our Pope is calling us to reach out ‘to the fringes,’ we must strive to be missionaries capable of proclaiming Christ’s love to our contemporaries. In order for this proclamation be clear and convincing, the Church of Montreal must take the necessary measures in order to maintain its credibility.”

In the same letter, Lepine explained how the new policy would take effect. First, he said a guide for parishes would be published and developed, and then the necessary resources to implement the policy effectively will be identified and gathered. Furthermore, the Responsible Pastoral Ministry will be implemented and will be a service to “provide support in implementing the new measures, with administrative follow-ups, in communications with the police, and with training.”

Lepine is referring to these steps as the “pilot phase,” which will begin sometime in the 2016-2017 year and will involve “French and English speaking parishes, those from the cultural communities, as well as the diocesan offices and services.” Nearly a dozen volunteers, or assigned parishes, will also have direct involvement with the pilot phase.

“We have also planned for a series of information sessions to be scheduled so that parish priests, parish administrators, and the leaders of Missions are made aware of the implications that these measures will have on their communities,” Lepine wrote.

According to The Guardian, the decree comes “too little, too late.” Carlo Tarini, who represents those who have survived abuse by Catholic priests, said the church is just trying to cover themselves from any impending legal action. He then referred to a recent settlement that took place in February after nearly 150 people came forward to say they were abused by the Clerics of St Viator, “who ran a school for deaf children in Montreal between 1940 and 1982.” Per the settlement, the Catholic church agreed to pay $30 million to the victims.

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