For a responsible pastoral ministry

2016-06-22

Archbishop Christian LépineDear Brothers and Sisters,


Recent events have brought to light the horrific reality of abuse of minors and vulnerable persons by members of the Church.  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.  Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have denounced these situations and issued clear instructions that every diocese is to provide itself with the necessary means to prevent such abuses and to immediately address cases of misconduct.

It is our duty to ensure the well-being and security of all the people to whom we offer pastoral care and to ensure a healthy and safe environment that is free of doubt for all who work within our churches, whether priests or lay people.  In Quebec, various organizations have included systematic preventative measures in their operations.

During my episcopate, I am determined to provide our Church with mechanisms for the supervision of paid and volunteer personnel to ensure a healthy and safe environment for everyone.  Known as "Responsible Pastoral Ministry," this policy must be implemented progressively in all the parishes and diocesan offices and services.  With this goal in mind, I have issued the decree attached to this letter.

To help implement the necessary measures and to assume this responsibility;

  • I request that a guide for parishes be published and developed, with later revisions improved with the insight of experience.
  • The appropriate tools for the different pastoral activities on the diocesan territory are to be gathered and identified, in order to provide us with the necessary resources to effectively implement the new policy.
  • A diocesan service has been formed and charged with the implementation of the "Responsible Pastoral Ministry."  This service will provide support in implementing the new measures, with administrative follow-ups, in communications with the police, and with training. I wish that during this initial phase or "the pilot phase", the participating parishes and the diocesan service work together to refine the existing procedures and tools.

This pilot phase is scheduled to begin during the 2016-2017 pastoral year and will involve French and English speaking parishes, those from the cultural communities, as well as the diocesan offices and services.

In order to effectively launch the pilot phase, we will require the more direct involvement of a dozen volunteers or assigned parishes. If you wish your parish to be among this group, please inform the Office of the Vicar General.

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.

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.

May our Lord Jesus Christ support us in our mission and help us stand together in this new effort,

Read the decree 

 
† Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal

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