CCCB president Bishop Lionel Gendron joined presidents of 114 bishops’ conferences from around the world at the Vatican summit Feb. 21-24. CNS photo

Team effort is needed for change in abuse crisis, says Bishop Gendron

By 
  • February 27, 2019

OTTAWA – The Canadian bishop who participated in the Vatican abuse summit believes the unprecedented gathering of Church leaders is a “sign of hope” that the Church is finally coming to grips with the worldwide problem of sexual crimes against minors.

“I’ve got the impression that people are becoming aware we need to face this problem in a realistic way and together, the whole people of God,” said Bishop Lionel Gendron.

Gendron attended the meeting as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He said the bishops spoke a lot about “collegiality, working together to address the issue. But equally important, he said, is the concept of synodality, which involves “the whole people of God.”

“As bishops we are not competent in everything,” said the bishop of Saint-John-Longueuil. “We need as a Church to work together as the whole people of God. This is what the Church is about — it’s a way of being Church.”

Gendron joined presidents of 114 bishops’ conferences from around the world at the summit. As for what comes next, he said the bishops await further instructions that will come in the form of an apostolic letter that will be written by Pope Francis in coming weeks. There will also be a document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

These documents are expected to set out clear guidelines for the world’s bishops on how to establish protocols for abuse prevention and how to respond to allegations of abuse. The Canadian bishops have had abuse guidelines in place since 1992. The guidelines were updated last year and Gendron brought copies of the CCCB’s document on sexual abuse to the summit.

He said other bishops “say our document is excellent.” He expects Canadian representatives will be invited to assist in countries that lack the expertise and resources to create their own protocols.

Gendron met with abuse victims before going to Rome and, after meeting with more Canadian victims who had come to Rome for the summit, he said he felt greatly affected.

“They were telling me we want a good document and all of that, but what we need most of all is the Church to be a welcoming family,” Gendron said. “Most of these people told me the day they decided to speak about the abuse they have suffered, relationships with their own family became quite difficult, also within the parish. 

“We have to listen, we have to welcome, we have to believe, there are all kinds of things required,” including spending time with victims, “to take all the time they need.”

Gendron agreed with the Pope  that a greater focus should be placed on the human formation of priestly candidates but also stressed the importance of accompanying priests so their celibacy is fruitful and enables them to be a better person.

“This is not only for the bishop to accompany (his priests), it is also for the community, the parish people to say, ‘Well, we’ve got the priest, we’ve got to help him to develop and be happy with us.’ ”

Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal believes the bishops still need to work on holding each other accountable.

The idea of zero tolerance, “that if you are ever convicted, you won’t do ministry anymore is very powerful,” he said. “It says to those who would abuse, the Church is not a place where you can hide.”

Transparency and good canonical processes are also necessary, Lépine said.

“To take abuse seriously, you need also to take the process, the judiciary, canonical process seriously and to do that you need competence,” he said. He said “an array of competencies” are required that would include lay people, priests, religious and bishops.

“We need competency and we don’t always have this competency,” he said.


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Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hmmm. For many of us who have suffered from clericalism and top down notations with homilies geared to 10year olds instead of adults for decades, who really don’t go to church and who still cannot speak without being shoved out as a conflict...

Hmmm. For many of us who have suffered from clericalism and top down notations with homilies geared to 10year olds instead of adults for decades, who really don’t go to church and who still cannot speak without being shoved out as a conflict and headache, these are hollow words. Such as: we are family. We are together. We must help each other and the last cliche, the laity must be formed. What nonsense nothing will change until you get rid of red tape and start having bible discussions and sharing faith in ones life at the grass roots not put on by a particular group who controls the discussion and listen to the pain of people not just a one time thing but forever...the pain doesn’t go away... oh I get it go the extra mile. Who really does that....???
Sorry too suspicious and too numb from hollow words over decades to care.
Good luck

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