• Archdiocese

Responsible Pastoral Ministry

Accompanying people at risk in our communities

Responsible Pastoral Ministry

To bring safety and integrity to the people to whom we carry the Gospel message, the Catholic Church of Montreal adopted in 2016 the Diocesan Pastoral Responsibility Policy, which aims to ensure to everyone a healthy and safe environment, and to prevent all forms of abuse towards vulnerable individuals. The pilot project was validated by the Archbishop in June 2018 and implementation within the diocese is currently underway. Out of concern for transparency, here is a copy of that procedure.

Screening, a responsible process tied to human resource management, consists of carefully examining the candidacy of those who apply for a job, be it in a volunteer or paid position. This process clears the way to choosing the best candidates and to warding off, as much as possible, all those who might be susceptible to behaving inappropriately toward those who are vulnerable, be it children or adults.

Screening objectives

1- To create and maintain a safe and secure environment.

2- To assure that the chosen candidate possesses the necessary aptitudes to accomplish the task.

Screening steps

Ten stages of the screening process

Job description

The job description for positions of authority defines the tasks to be performed in the context of a particular service or of a pastoral activity. The task description establishes the precise rules and procedures to which all hired personnel in pastoral activities must conform. It also permits the proper evaluation of the risk level inherent in each task.

Job description model

Risk evaluation

Risk evaluation associated with a position represents a pivotal step if we want to choose the most adequate screening measures.  This evaluation, done beforehand, will be very useful to the directors of the screening process, and is comprised of 10 steps.

The following factors will serve to establish the risk level for a position of authority:

  • Profile of the participants or the beneficiaries (age of the people involved, physical state, degree of vulnerability);

  • Environment (location of the activity, physical disposition, public/private);

  • Nature of the activity (animation, counseling, visit);

  • Type of supervision (people present, direct, indirect, frequency);

  • Nature of the interactions (individual, group, intensity, intimacy).

Examples of risk factors

Recruitment process

It is strongly advised that all organizations adopt a formal recruitment process, whether for volunteers or for those in paid positions.

If you want to transition from an informal hiring context to a process that is more systemized, we recommend following these steps:

  • Provide a written statement that outlines the position of authority or the description of the associated tasks to the people involved;

  • Give written or oral explanations concerning the moral and legal obligation of submitting to administrative formalities, as much for any volunteers who wish to work for the community as for those applying for a paid position;

  • Provide information regarding the routine screening process that all candidates must submit to.

The admission or identification forms should be completed by all those who wish to occupy a position, or who already occupy a position. This form, which collects basic information (name, coordinates, work experience, references, etc.), will allow, as needed, the various diocesan organizations to proceed with regular verifications, according to the risk associated with the desired or occupied position.

Volunteer form
Employee form


Job interview

All new personnel offering their services on the diocesan or pastoral level must undergo a job interview, to be led by at least two interviewers. The candidate will answer questions pertaining to his or her human and professional development (formation and experience), his or her motivations, as well as all other subjects judged to be pertinent, with scrupulous respect to the fundamental rights of the person as granted by the laws and charters of Quebec.

Practical guide for interviews

Verification of references*

All candidates who wish to occupy a function (whether paid or not) in the diocese, must provide at least two references on his or her admission form. Those listed as references may be of several types: employers, association managers, pastors, community members, etc.; out of prudence, the listed references must have no family ties with the candidate. The verification of a reference is most often done over the phone and does not last longer than ten to twelve minutes.

Checklist for the verification of references

Verification of police check*

The verification of the police check is done within a protocol that exists between the SPVM and the Diocese of Montreal.  The diocesan pastoral responsibility service will inform the parishes and other organizations of the mode of application of this protocol.

*Steps reserved for people occupying a position with elevated risk.

Orientation and formation

All hired personnel are considered on probation for a determined time, out of respect for the laws of Quebec. This probationary period, clearly outlined by the employer, will allow for the validation or cancellation of the choice of candidate for the position.  This probationary period is essentially the orientation and formation stage.

The orientation and formation stage allows the employer:

  • To review with the hired person what the task consist of, the objectives to be achieved and the expectations of the parish directors, as well as the internal functioning of the organization (procedures, relationships with authorities, responsibilities, etc.);
  • To familiarize the person with the diverse tools associated with their task (programs, catechetical processes, etc.);
  • To recognize that employee and volunteer have read and subscribed to the code of ethics and the code of conduct of the responsible pastoral policy.
  • To keep up to date employee and volunteers with any document necessary to complete the policy for responsible pastoral ministry, such as the guide to online activities, in our common concern to always promote a safe and healthy environment for our pastoral activities.

A volunteer candidate who has been accepted at a parish has an obligation to provide written (signed) agreement to respect the mutual commitment agreement.

Supervision and evaluation

The form and frequency of evaluations will vary according to the nature of the task (or the function) and the associated risks. For this reason, the supervision of any positions of trust will be regular and thorough.

The supervisor must therefore foresee the form and frequency of the evaluation of the person under his or her responsibility, keep that person informed, and as much as possible provide support in a positive way and tailor their professional development and the use of their talents.

Follow-up with participants

After the supervision and evaluation of pastoral personnel, whether volunteer or in a paid position, it is also necessary to assure a follow-up for the beneficiaries of the pastoral work (and their families, if necessary)

Regular meetings or telephone contact with the participants (and their families) of a program or activity will allow those responsible to assure their human and organizational quality. These follow-ups will also allow for the quick identification of a dysfunctional individual or of any malevolent intentions.

Training 2022


Our diocese has decisively undertaken the important shift of placing victims of abuse at the centre of our concerns. In order to strengthen this commitment, Archbishop Lépine requests that all those, whether mandated or volunteers, involved in any sphere of activity at all in the Church (pastoral or administration), should receive training to help them better recognize and report abuse in whatever form.

The first phase of the program begins in the coming days and continues until May. This concerns only pastoral staff and Archdiocese employees. A second phase will be announced later in the year, addressing other groups of those involved, volunteers, churchwardens, catechists, Fabrique employees, etc. 
Please see the following documents:  

Communiqués :


Module 1: It's not just about sexual abuse

In June of 2016, our archbishop Most Rev. Christian Lépine published the Decree regarding the Diocesan Policy for Pastoral Responsibility, preparing for the implementation of a pilot project in some of the parishes of our diocese.
The time has now come to present the first summary of what was carried out by the parish pastoral teams that were part of this pilot project.

On this page you will find a monthly publication which will highlight the experiences of each of the parishes that were involved in the implementation of this policy. Three sections are presented: steps undertaken, challenges that were met with, and accomplishments, so as to recognize the efforts of those pastors and parish teams who put this pastoral responsibility into practice.

If you are a pastor of a parish within the diocese of Montreal and you would like to apply these new diocesan norms, please contact the diocesan coordinator of Pastoral Responsibility Services. It will be a pleasure to accompany you and to provide you with all of the necessary tools for this process.

The principal objective of the Diocesan Policy for Pastoral Responsibility is to assure a healthy and safe environment for all, while preventing all types of abuse of those who are vulnerable.

Pilot parish summaries:




Purification de la Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie and Notre-Dame-des-Champs


Saint Donat


Saint-Théophile and Sainte-Dorothée

Saint Luke

Does pastoral responsibility apply only to volunteers?

No. The diocesan pastoral responsibility policy applies to all personnel working for the Diocese of Montreal, without exception: employees, priests, members of the clergy, religious or lay people, paid or volunteer, parishes and missions, offices and diocesan services, corporations.

Does this policy serve to counter sexual abuses committed against minors?

No, it is a policy with a much broader aim. The application of the pastoral responsibility policy aims to prevent all forms of abuse in the interactions with all those who are minors or vulnerable: sexual abuse, emotional, financial or physical. Minors are not the only ones that the pastoral responsibility policy aims to protect; in fact, many adults are vulnerable because of their age, a handicap, temporary or permanent circumstances, and they are no longer able to properly protect themselves. The policy therefore protects minors and people who are of age.

Is a police check obligatory for all those who work in parishes?

No. The police check and the verification of references only apply to people who occupy positions considered to hold an elevated risk.

The diocesan pastoral responsibility service wants all parishes, works and diocesan organizations to put into place a systemized screening process for salaried personnel and volunteers. Integrating this process of preventative measures into current systems of operations will allow us to achieve the objectives of the pastoral responsibility policy.

Contact information:

Responsible Pastoral Ministry
2000, rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal (Qc)
H3H 1G4
(514) 925-4355