1 ARCHDIOCESE OF VANCOUVER Policy Regarding Allegations of Clerical Sexual Abuse Promulgated January, 1994 Updated April 11, 2007
2 Page 1 INTRODUCTION The Archdiocese of Vancouver is committed to both justice and compassion in dealing with the evil of sexual abuse in the Church. This revised policy aims to address three elements of any incident involving clerical sexual abuse. First, it provides for the safety and pastoral care of victims, their families, and the community at large. Second, it seeks to protect the rights of all, as guaranteed by the Code of Canon Law. Third, it explains how the Archdiocese will deal with allegations prior to the more formal processes defined in that code, the universal law of the Church. The process outlined in the policy has been designed to assist the Archbishop in dealing with this difficult situation. In the final result, he alone is responsible for the manner in which the policy will be applied.
3 Page 2 ARTICLE 1 GENERAL PROVISIONS 1.1 Sexual misconduct by a priest with a minor 1 occurs when the priest has behaviour of a sexualized nature that betrays sacred trust, violates the ministerial role, and exploits those who are vulnerable in that relationship. This could include conduct of a criminal nature, conduct that is sexual harassment or sexualized conduct in nature of viewing pornographic images of children. Sexual abuse also includes sexual exploitation which involves the taking of nonconsensual unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another for one s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. It violates human dignity, priestly commitment, and the mission of the Church. Such misconduct is an offence in both canon and secular law. 1.2 The Archdiocese undertakes to investigate carefully any allegation of clerical sexual abuse. 1.3 The Archdiocese will listen attentively and sensitively to anyone alleging sexual abuse committed by a priest or a religious. 1.4 The Archdiocese will also respond to the victim s family, the community, and the priest with appropriate pastoral care. 1.5 The Archdiocese will take all necessary steps to offer pastoral and psychological help to those who may be affected by the alleged sexual misconduct of a priest of a minor. 1.6 The Archdiocese will comply fully with all laws which require the reporting of allegations of sexual misconduct to secular authorities, with the clear understanding that the seal of sacramental confession remains inviolable. The current applicable secular law is presented in Appendix I of this policy. 1.7 Both in canon and secular law, a person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Care must be taken to ensure that this principle is always observed, while carrying out thorough and careful inquiries. 1.8 The Archdiocese will ensure that seminarians and priests have adequate information about the nature and effect of sexual abuse. It will arrange careful 1 Under the Age of Majority Act, section 1(1), a person attains the age of majority on attaining the age of 19 years.
4 Page 3 screening of all candidates for the priesthood to be carried out by competent professionals. 1.9 This policy replaces the Interim Policy dated October 30, 1990 and the interim committee thereby established will cease to function as of the date of promulgation The report From Pain to Hope, issued by the Canadian Bishops Ad-Hoc Committee on child sexual abuse, will continue to guide, inspire, and animate further growth and healing at all appropriate levels in the Archdiocese.
5 Page 4 ARTICLE 2 ASSISTANCE TO THOSE AFFECTED 2.1 Commitment to Victims. The Archdiocese is committed to the pastoral support of victims, victims families, or other persons affected by an incident or allegation. The Archdiocese will identify professional and other resources and make the available to a victim or other person. Catholic Family Services will ensure a trained counsellor is available for this purpose. 2.2 Constitution of Victim Assistance Committee. A multi-disciplinary committee will ensure that individualized support is available to victims and alleged victims of sexual abuse by a priest and advise the Archbishop regarding the responsibilities of the Archdiocese in each case. a) Membership. The Victim Assistance Committee will consist of at least three persons who will be composed of the Archbishop s Delegate named in 4.2 below, a pastor, and a person professionally qualified and experienced in the field of behavioural sciences (herein referred to as the Lay Professional ) and any other Church official as required. The Lay Professional will be charged with an independent role of advocating and promoting through the Victim Assistance Committee the best interests at all times of the victim or alleged victim or other person affected. The solicitor for the Archdiocese may, as required, attend and assist at any meetings of the Victim Assistance Committee. b) Officers. The Archbishop s Delegate will convene and chair the Committee. c) Relationship with the Archbishop. The role of this Committee is consultative to the Archbishop. In this capacity, the Committee will assist the Archbishop by carrying out its mandate, keeping the Archbishop informed and making recommendations to him. d) Payment of Counselling Fees. The Committee will consider each application for payment of counselling or treatment fees according to such Archdiocesan guidelines as may be established from time to time. 2.3 Assistance to Minors. If the alleged victim is still a minor, a suitable representative of the Archdiocese will meet with the parents or guardians to offer appropriate pastoral support and show care and concern for those involved. If such support is not desired, advice should be available to them as to where to obtain appropriate professional help for themselves and the minor. 2.4 Assistance to Priests. In cases where a priest is accused of sexual abuse, the Archbishop will appoint another priest to act as a fraternal support in
6 Page 5 consultation with the accused. The priest named as fraternal support will assist the accused priest in spiritual and material ways by ensure his basic needs are met, by assuring him of the prayerful support of the presbyterate, and by conveying any special requests to the Archbishop. He should not, however, discuss the case with the accused, mindful that their conversations are not privileged. 2.5 Assistance to Parishes. Under the direction of Catholic Family Services, a team will be available to assist parishes affected by the accusation against or criminal conviction of one of its priests, with the aim of promoting and healing and understanding. All parishes will be encouraged to use the study-action guide Breach of Trust, Breach of Faith as a means of combating the evil of child sexual abuse not only in the Church but throughout society. 2.6 Basis for Providing Prompt Assistance. Any and all assistance rendered to an alleged victim will be understood as reflecting the Church s pastoral compassion and concern. Those seeking such assistance must recognize that no admission of liability or responsibility or of an individual s guilt is conveyed by the readiness of the Archdiocese to provide professional or other compassionate help before the facts are adjudicated by a church or secular process. Any actions taken by the Archdiocese in the course of its inquiries should not be construed as a conviction of the accused cleric.
7 Page 6 ARTICLE 3 APPLICATION OF THESE POLICIES 3.1 All priests incardinated or working in the Archdiocese will become familiar with these policies and be bound by them. A copy of the policies will be sent to every priest and must be kept along with other diocesan guidelines. 3.2 Relationship with Religious Communities. The Archdiocese will ask religious communities whose priest members work in the Archdiocese to agree in writing to the following: a) religious priests working in the Archdiocese and their superiors agree to abide by its policies and procedures relating to clerical sexual abuse; b) when a religious priest is presented for appointment in the Archdiocese, the major superior will certify that he is unaware of any moral misconduct in the priest s background, especially anything which would render him unsuitable to work with minors; c) at the request of the major superior, the Archbishop may consent to the application of the community s own procedures for dealing with a specific allegation. In such cases, a report of the outcome will be made to the Archbishop, and the superior will from time to time answer any legitimate inquiries that the Archbishop or his Delegate may make. 3.3 Priests From Other Dioceses. The Archdiocese will require any priest from another diocese seeking a pastoral appointment here to provide a letter from his proper Ordinary to certify that he is unaware of anything in the priest s background which would render him unsuitable to work with minors. The same assurances will be sought from the priest himself. For its part, the Archdiocese will be extremely careful in assessing an extern priest s suitability for ministry, including his suitability for working with minors. 3.4 Additional Applications. At the Archbishop s direction in individual cases, these policies and procedures may be applied to allegations of alleged sexual misconduct other than with a minor, particularly when the alleged victim is a vulnerable 2 adult. 2 Vulnerable adult : an individual at least eighteen (18) years of age who is susceptible to abuse or exploitation by virtue of his/her significant mental or physical impairment.
8 Page Initial Assessment. ARTICLE 4 INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF ALLEGATIONS a) The initial assessment may be waived in cases where an accusation has come to the Archbishop s attention as a result of the filing of criminal charges. b) While such charges are pending, great care will be exercised in any inquiries lest they create even the appearance of interference with secular law. 4.2 Appointment of Delegate. The Archbishop will appoint a priest, hereafter described as the Archbishop s Delegate, to oversee these policies and to conduct the pastoral assessment of an allegation. Another priest, to be known as the Deputy Delegate, will be appointed to act in all matters covered in these policies when the Delegate is unavailable or when the Archbishop so requests. 4.3 Establishment of Advisory Committee. An Advisory Committee on Sexual Abuse will be established to whom, under the authority of the Archbishop s Delegate, is referred any issue of sexual abuse or any allegation of sexual abuse. 4.4 Constitution of Committee. The Advisory Committee described in 4.3 will be appointed by the Archbishop as follows: a) Membership. The Advisory Committee will consist of at least five persons and will be composed of the Archbishop s Delegate, the Deputy Delegate, a person knowledgeable in canon law, the diocesan solicitor, a professional experienced in the treatment of those who have suffered sexual abuse, and a person competent to deal with media inquiries. b) Officers. The Archbishop s Delegate will convene and chair the Committee. A person qualified as a notary according to canon law will act as secretary and maintain minutes. c) Relationship with Archbishop. The role of this Committee is consultative to the Archbishop. In this capacity, the Committee will assist the Archbishop by carrying out its mandate, keeping the Archbishop informed and making recommendations to him. d) Meetings. 1. The Advisory Committee will meet as often as necessary to perform its duties. The members will take an oath of confidentiality and will not discuss the business of the Advisory Committee or information
9 Page 8 presented to the Advisory Committee other than in the course of the exercise of their duties as members of the Advisory Committee. 2. The Archbishop or other persons designated by him may attend meetings. Any other person may attend meetings only upon the invitation of or with the consent of the Committee, and subject to the requirement of confidentiality. 4.5 Legal Counsel. a) The Archdiocesan solicitor will attend all meetings and sit as a member of the Advisory Committee in order to represent the interests of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and to advise on secular law and possible litigation. b) Nothing in these policies and procedures will limit an individual s right to outside legal or canonical counsel. c) The Archdiocese will pay reasonable costs of the legal assistance for an accused diocesan priest. The Archdiocesan solicitor will provide advice regarding suitable defence lawyers who might be retained by an accused priest. The accused retains every right to choose other counsel, but in such cases the Archdiocese does not guarantee to be responsible for the resulting fees. The priest s counsel has the right to attend all meetings between any representative of the Archdiocese and the accused. 4.6 Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information. Information gathered in connection with the processes set forth in this policy will be kept confidential by the Delegate, with the exception of the following: a) he will disclose to the accused priest all available information concerning the allegation, according to the prudent judgement of the Archbishop; b) he will provide the person making the allegation with appropriate and timely information about the actions of the Archdiocese in response to the complaint; c) he will provide all available information to the Archbishop, the Committee, and other persons the Archbishop may designate; d) he will provide all available information to the competent superior in connection with allegations about a member of a religious community or a priest of another diocese; and e) he will disclose such information as is legally required.
10 Page Immediate Action by the Delegate. a) Upon receipt of the allegation, the Delegate will consult immediately the diocesan solicitor for general advice and regarding any secular law reporting requirements related to sexual abuse. b) The Delegate will also promptly do the following: 1. report the allegation to the Archbishop or, in his absence, his Vicar; 2. together with the Archdiocesan solicitor, meet with the accused priest and inform him of the allegation, explaining to him in advance his right to outside legal and canonical counsel, and hear his explanation if one is offered; 3. determine whether the safety of children requires the immediate withdrawal of the priest from his ministerial assignment and promptly communicate a recommendation to the Archbishop or his Vicar; in making this determination and recommendation, the Delegate may consult with members of the Committee; 4. schedule and give effective notice of a meeting of the Committee to occur as promptly as possible (usually within two working days after the allegation was first received); and 5. review the priest s file, make appropriate inquiries about the allegation, and prepare a report of all available information for presentation to the Committee either orally or in writing at its meeting. The Delegate will reduce an oral report to writing as soon as practical after the first meeting. 4.8 Role of the Advisory Committee. a) The Committee will assess whether an accusation that a priest engaged in sexual abuse has at least the appearance of truth. On the basis of their determination, the Committee will make the recommendations to the Archbishop about the following: 1. if the priest has already withdrawn from ministry pending the initial assessment, whether such withdrawal should continue; if the withdrawal should not continue, whether any restrictions should be agreed to by the priest or imposed on him by the Archbishop as provided by canon law; 2. if the priest has not withdrawn from ministry, whether he should withdraw, whether he should continue in his assignment and, if so, whether any restrictions should be agreed to by the priest or imposed on him by the Archbishop as provided by canon law; 3. whether the priest, with his consent, should be referred to a competent professional or selected treatment centre for appropriate assessment;
11 Page whether the file may be closed at this stage of the proceedings or held open pending action by public bodies, further inquiries by the Delegate, or further deliberation by the Committee; and 5. if the priest s conduct does not constitute sexual abuse but is otherwise inappropriate, whether further action is warranted, with suggestions as to such action. b) If the Committee determines the allegation to be unsubstantiated, it will recommend that inquiries be terminated, and close the file with a declaration that the priest was not involved in any wrongdoing. c) If the allegation has already become public, appropriate steps must be taken to repair damage done to the priest s reputation. d) The Committee will provide advice to the Archbishop as requested concerning the possibility of a return to ministry for a priest guilty of sexual abuse. e) The Committee will recommend to the Archbishop, from time to time, any changes in this policy seen as necessary or desirable. 4.9 Nothing in this policy will limit or restrict in any way the application of canon law or the rights and protections guaranteed therein to both accuser and accused, particularly the right to due process, the right to one s reputation, and the right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty If civil or criminal proceedings are taking place, canonical inquiry may be delayed until the matter has been resolved before the courts in order to protect the legal rights of the accused priest.
12 Page 11 ARTICLE 5 REPORTING AN ALLEGATION 5.1 Reporting an Allegation. Allegations of sexual abuse against a priest working in the Archdiocese of Vancouver may be reported to the Archdiocese by telephoning, writing, or by meeting in person with Archbishop or Delegate. 5.2 To the extent possible, the person making the report should provide the Archbishop or Delegate with the name of the priest who is the subject of the allegation, the name or names of the alleged victim or victims, an accurate description of the alleged misconduct, the relevant dates, times and circumstances in which the misconduct allegedly occurred, and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of other persons who may have knowledge of the alleged misconduct. 5.3 If the Archbishop or Delegate learns of an allegation through the media or in some other fashion, appropriate inquiries will proceed in substantially the same manner as any other allegation subject to the provisions of numbers 4.1b) and 4.10 of the policy; and 5.4 The Archbishop or Delegate ordinarily will not deal with allegations which are frivolous or vexatious. Anonymous complaints will also be dismissed unless they have a strong appearance of truth or present enough information to permit reasonable inquiry. In such cases, the Archbishop or Delegate will report details of the allegations to the Committee at its next meeting, omitting the name of the accused. When prudential inquiries find no grounds for the allegation, the record of the accusation will be destroyed. 5.5 Reporting to Secular Authorities. In British Columbia, any person who has reasonable grounds to believe a child is in need of protection (see Appendix I ) is legally required to report this to the secular authorities. A priest who suspects he may have this obligation, whether or not the allegation is against a priest or any other person, is to consult the diocesan solicitor immediately for advice as to whether nor not a report is required to be given to secular authorities. If the allegation is against a priest, the diocesan solicitor will report the allegation to the Archbishop or his Delegate, if such report has not previously been made. 5.6 Pastoral Considerations. When a priest learns of a case of clerical sexual abuse in which there is no legal obligation to inform secular authorities he must exercise careful pastoral judgement and sensitivity. He must offer understanding and support to anyone involved in the case and explain to the victim or informant the Archdiocesan Policy Regarding Allegations of Clerical Sexual Abuse so
13 Page 12 that those involved may be fully aware of their rights, including their right to report to secular authorities, and of the Archdiocese s concern for their welfare and the protection of others. 5.7 Pastoral Confidentiality. With the agreement of the informant, the priest will report the case to the Archbishop or his Delegate. However, when the informant asks that the allegation not be revealed to anyone, the priest is to comply if 1) he is not required to report by secular law and 2) he has no grounds to believe that offences may be continuing. Confidential advice must be sought from the diocesan solicitor in case of any doubt about legal requirements. Priests should take care to explain to victims or informants their serious moral obligation to allow the offense to be reported to Church authorities. Without such information, the Archdiocese cannot take appropriate action to prevent further offences, maintain Church discipline, and work toward healing. 5.8 Sacramental Seal. All of the above requirements are, of course, subject to the clear understanding that the seal of sacramental confession remains inviolable.
14 Page 13 ARTICLE 6 CANONICAL PROCESSES 6.1 A preliminary investigation will be undertaken and the appropriate canonical procedures followed.
15 Page 14 ARTICLE 7 RETURN TO MINISTRY 7.1 The Archdiocese recognizes its grave responsibility to protect children, and will permit the return to ministry of a priest convicted of or admitting to sexual abuse only if all possibility of harm arising from his reinstatement has been carefully addressed. 7.2 Return to Ministry. When considering the possibility of a return to the ministry (probably limited) for a priest convicted or admitting to sexual misconduct, the Archbishop will make the decision in consultation with the advisory committee described in Article 4 of this policy and with recognized experts, in keeping with the following norms: 3 a) a complete and reliable diagnosis and prognosis must be available; b) the priest must have accepted or at least recognized that the problem exists; c) there would need to be an adequate time of adjustment between incarceration and eventual acceptance for return to ministry; d) the priest would have to agree to all appropriate restrictions on his activities and ministry as a condition of the appointment; e) an effective system of monitoring has to be available for the duration of the priest s active ministry; f) other mechanisms such as support groups and after-care programs need to be available in the diocese which can and will provide continuing support and guidance to the priest; g) any ministerial assignment must not bring the priest into unsupervised contact with individuals or groups with characteristics similar to the previous victims, or persons who had previously been victims of sexual abuse. 3 cf. From Pain to Hope, p.51.
16 Page 15 APPENDIX I THE SECULAR OBLIGATION TO REPORT SEXUAL ABUSE The duty to report is contained in Part 3, Division 1, Item 14, subsections 1 to 5 thereof, of the Child, Family and Community Service Act 4 which is quoted as follows: 14. (1) A person who has reason to believe that a child needs protection under section 13 must promptly report the matter to a director or a person designated by a director. (2) Subsection (1) applies even if the information on which the belief is based (a) is privileged, except as a result of a solicitor-client relationship, or (b) is confidential and its disclosure is prohibited under another Act. (3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence. (4) A person who knowingly reports to a director, or a person designated by a director, false information that a child needs protection commits an offence. (5) No action for damages may be brought against a person for reporting information under this section unless the person knowingly reported false information. A director means a person designated by the Minister under section 91. In section 13 of the statute, needs protection is defined as follows: 13. (1) A child needs protection in the following circumstances: (a) if the child has been, or is likely to be, physically harmed by the child s parent; (b) if the child has been, or is likely to be, sexually abused or exploited by the child s parent; (c) if the child has been, or is likely to be, physically harmed, sexually abused or sexually exploited by another person and if the child s parent is unwilling or unable to protect the child; (d) if the child has been, or is likely to be, physically harmed because of neglect by the child s parent; (e) if the child is emotionally harmed by the parent s conduct; (f) if the child is deprived of necessary health care; (g) if the child s development is likely to be seriously impaired by a treatable condition and the child s parent refuses to provide or consent to treatment; (h) if the child s parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child and has not made adequate provision for the child s care; (i) if the child is or has been absent from home in circumstances that endanger the child s safety or well-being; (j) if the child s parent is dead and adequate provision has not been made for the child s care; (k) if the child has been abandoned and adequate provision has not been made for the child s care; 4 Child, Family and Community Service Act, RSBC 1996, c. 46, : When protection is needed and : Duty to report need for protection.
17 Page 16 (l) if the child is in the care of a director or another person by agreement and the child s parent is unwilling or unable to resume care when the agreement is no longer in force. (1.1) For the purpose of subsection (1) (b) and (c) and section 14 (1) (a) but without limiting the meaning of sexually abused or sexually exploited, a child has been or is likely to be sexually abused or sexually exploited if the child has been, or is likely to be, (a) encouraged or helped to engage in prostitution, or (b) coerced or inveigled into engaging in prostitution. (2) For the purpose of subsection (1) (e), a child is emotionally harmed if the child demonstrates severe (a) anxiety, (b) depression, (c) withdrawal, or (d) self-destructive or aggressive behaviour.
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