Dear faithful of the Diocese of Charlottetown,
The recent news of sex scandals in the United States was particularly disheartening and hurtful because of the implication of some Bishops and Cardinals who tried to cover up these sinful crimes. None of this reflects the Way, the Truth and Life of Jesus which you and I expect of Church leaders (John 14:16). Although this happened in a different country, I nevertheless feel shame for the Church as it is the same Christian faith we share. This storm indeed is making troubled waters for the Barque of Peter. The understandable plea of the Apostles, “Lord, do you not care we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38 and Matthew 8:25) could well be our prayer these days.
However, in Canada some good news was announced on October 4, 2018 with the publication by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation and Transformation”. Consultants for this document included psychologists, social workers, legal experts and most important, victims. The Canadian Bishops identify nine lessons they learned and wish to share with priests, deacons, lay ministers and all the faithful. Each lesson emphasizes accountability and transparency. Upon these two pillars stand sixty-nine recommendations for every Diocese in Canada to implement at the Diocesan and parish level. I invite everyone to read the entire document which is posted on our Diocesan Website, dioceseofcharlottetown.com.
Looking forward, your parish and the Diocese may expect a dedicated commitment to long term-prevention and the pre-emptive action. Accountability and transparency make no sense unless it is offered for the long term and with a pro-active strategy. We have already established a good beginning in this respect when we inaugurated in 2010-2011 the “Strengthening the Caring Community Program” which is dedicated to securing a safe environment in each parish. Every parish is expected to have a committee to coordinate the protection of vulnerable adults and youth with such practices as police checks and volunteer registrations. Right now each parish committee is receiving three copies of the CCCB document, “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse” for study. By the beginning of the new year the Diocesan Committee for Strengthening the Caring Community program will publish a parish CODE OF ETHICS. Workshops to implement this new Code will be provided at that time. In addition the Diocesan Committee regarding Allegations of Misconduct will review its commitment and procedures in the light of the new document and make whatever changes are recommended.
One of the recommendations in the CCCB document, “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse” clearly states that our programs be audited on a regular basis by an outside auditor. I have already consulted with our insurers who audit parishes for physical safety on a regular basis. They have agreed to monitor parishes as well for compliance with our program and protocols for the safety of vulnerable adults and children. This is an additional commitment we are making towards accountability and transparency.
My dear people I was taught that ours is Holy Church. It is Holy by the grace and presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are nevertheless a Holy Church of sinners. Current events have shocked us into realizing and accepting this fact. But because of Jesus’ commitment to us we don’t give up. We rely on God’s grace to forgive and to ask forgiveness; we rely on God’s grace for wisdom to make the right and necessary decisions and we rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit to continue the ministry and mission of Jesus.
Yours in Christ,
Richard Grecco, Bishop of Charlottetown