Canadian Bishops Address Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults at Meeting
A committee presented a code of conduct template that incorporated protections on all vulnerable persons to the gathered plenary assembly this week.
On the second day of the 2023 Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), a bishops’ committee provided recommendations on diocesan policies that are focused on protecting minors and vulnerable adults to all the bishops in attendance.
The Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry and the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons has studied the issue of “vulnerable persons” over the past year, looking at how to define vulnerability, how to reduce risks, and what behaviors should be encouraged on the part of those in ministry, according to the CCCB.
During a Tuesday news conference, Richard Fréchette, who serves on the committee, said “many dioceses already have a code of conduct for priests” but that much of the previous work had been solely focused on protecting minors. He said the committee presented a code of conduct template that incorporated protections on all vulnerable persons, noting the “importance of having that as part of the code of conduct.”
Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of the Archdiocese of Gatineau, who also serves on the committee, said the protections for vulnerable persons are meant to prevent people from “using positions of authority to impose themselves and demand various kinds of [sexual] favors … of people who are under their care.”
The archbishop said the committee was motivated, in part, by the “Me Too” movement, which he said showed this problem in the sports world, the artistic world, the media world, “and, unfortunately, the Church world, also.”
Archbishop Durocher added that all of the Canadian bishops engaged in a study session that looked into three case studies and provided recommendations on how to address these issues if they arise.
Fréchette noted that the committee discussed a variety of issues related to conduct, such as harassment, violence, sexual conduct, information technology, and financial issues.
The bishops began their annual four-day meeting on Monday, and it comes to a close on Thursday. They have gathered in King City, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.
On the first day, the bishops prepared for the Synod on Synodality, which begins in Rome in about a week. Four Canadian bishops and four Canadian non-bishop participants will take part in the global synod. They also discussed humanitarian efforts in Honduras.
The bishops also plan to address the growing practice of euthanasia in Canada and the recent expansion of eligibility to include those suffering from mental-health conditions. They plan to discuss the importance of promoting palliative care rather than euthanasia.