Diocesan update on safeguarding against sexual abuse and responding to allegations

Brenda Fitzgerald, Chair of the Diocesan Committee for the Covenant of Care and Allegations of Serious Misconduct Protocol, provides an overview of diocesan policy in a video message released Nov. 15. Video messages from Diocesan Coordinator of Care Theresa Campbell and Bishop Mark Hagemoen also address recent updates to diocesan safeguarding policies. The videos are posted below. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Video updates about the diocesan safe environment policies were recently released by leaders in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

In the three videos, Brenda Fitzgerald, chair of the Diocesan Committee for the Covenant of Care and Serious Misconduct Protocol, Diocesan Coordinator of Care Theresa Campbell, and Bishop Mark Hagemoen address various elements of the diocesan policies related to safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons, and responding to allegations of sexual abuse.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is committed to providing safe and respectful church communities and to protecting people from abuse and harm the results from abuse,” said Fitzgerald, who chairs the Diocesan Committee established in 2018 to review and update diocesan safeguarding policies and response protocols.

“In June 2019, the advisory committee completed a comprehensive review of the diocese’s policies and protocols to ensure that they were current and more focused on creating safe church environments. Also, more emphasis was placed on creating sensitive processes to assist and support people coming forward with any allegation of serious misconduct. The policies were also reviewed to ensure that the recommendations from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops 2018 document on Protecting Minors From Sexual Abuse were incorporated,” Fitzgerald said.

The video message from Theresa Campbell focused on involvement of the laity, and upcoming training sessions being provided to clergy, lay staff and other lay volunteers, including the “Parish Coordinator of Care” that each parish is required to have in place.

These training sessions will be held Tuesday, Nov. 26 at St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt and Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, with an option to participate via web conference. Registration is required; contact the Catholic Pastoral Centre (306) 242-1500.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen began his video message by quoting Sister Nancy Brown of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax on the impact of the sexual abuse crisis and how the church must respond.

“The body of Christ has been broken by the scandal of clerical abuse. All members of the community have been affected by this grave injustice. During this time of intense pain and shame, all are called to show compassionate care, listening deeply to the pain, shame, anger, confusion, disbelief and questioning of faith. It is a time to listen unconditionally without judgement, rejecting all cover ups, revealing all secrets, calling perpetrators to accountability and walking with the survivors. Safeguarding within the church means working toward the elimination of violence and cultivating a culture of peace and harmony.” – Sr. Nancy Brown, speaking at diocesan Priests’ Study Days 2019.

“We need to listen to and support victims and survivors. This is the perspective from which all our efforts begin,” Hagemoen stressed.

The bishop provided an overview of recent work to improve how allegations are reported. “We aim to have a process of ‘intake’ that is clear and straightforward. Persons can report to either one of several people, which includes a lay person and a woman. We commit to an immediate response – a same-day acknowledgement.”

To report abuse: CONTACT INFORMATION 

Addressing the need to support victims, Hagemoen said: “A dedicated and independent person will act as a ‘support person’ for complainants who come forward and need healing support, as well as provide updated information about the process going forward.”

The diocese has also initiated a review of diocesan historical records – independent of the bishop’s office and the Catholic Pastoral Centre – to “evaluate if past historical decisions were appropriate, and also what we can learn for future situations if and when they arise,” said the bishop.

Education and training for all clergy and lay employees, as well as volunteers working with children, youth or vulnerable adults, is another focus for the diocese, he added. “Training will be clear about the obligation to report all serious misconduct – both in terms of civil obligations and church requirements. In all of this, full cooperation with the police and civil authorities will continue to be fully and clearly emphasized,” he said.

“A key feature of training must address support for victims, including: crisis and trauma training for clergy, (and) diocesan employees who work with youth/ vulnerable people. We will also be seeking some of our clergy and laity to be designated as persons trained in trauma support and accompaniment.”

• Message from Bishop Mark Hagemoen about an episode of The Fifth Estate that aired on Nov. 17, 2019: UPDATE re: Covenant of Care and CBC program

• Nov. 8, 2019 survey response from the Diocese of Saskatoon to The Fifth Estate television program about historical review of cases, and publication of names of persons who are “credibly accused” of sexual abuse: Diocesan RESPONSE

• The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has also posted an update on how the bishops are implementing guidelines on protecting minors from sexual abuse. The statement also addresses the question of publishing names of persons who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, but not criminally charged and/or convicted: PDF of the CCCB Statement

VIDEO UPDATE Covenant of Care: Responding to the Sexual Abuse Crisis:

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is committed to providing safe and respectful church communities and to protecting people from abuse and harm that results from abuse.” – Brenda Fitzgerald, Chair, Diocesan Committee for the Covenant of Care and Serious Misconduct Protocol.

Transcript – Brenda Fitzgerald: CLICK for PDF

VIDEO UPDATE Involvement of the Laity:

“For many years, each parish has been required to have a volunteer position known as a Parish Coordinator of Care. In September we reached out to parishes to provide an update regarding their person designated.” – Theresa Campbell, Diocesan Coordinator of Care and Director of Operations at the Catholic Pastoral Centre

Transcript of Update from Theresa Campbell: CLICK for PDF

 

VIDEO UPDATE from Bishop Mark Hagemoen:

“We need to listen to and support victims and survivors. This is the perspective from which all our efforts begin.” – Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

Transcript of Update from Bishop Mark Hagemoen: CLICK for PDF