OTTAWA, September 26, 2005 ( -ÂLast Thursday, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops organization (CCCB) released its report by a task force appointed two years ago by a committee to review a 1992 report on the problem of sexual abuse by priests. The 1992 report, which was never adopted as formal policy, was the result of extensive research by another committee appointed in 1989.

The latest report, clearly indicating Canada’s bishops have badly dropped the ball on the abuse crisis, says the Church in Canada must get tougher on sexual predator priests and become more open, compassionate and accountable to abuse victims. In their Church publications Canadian Catholics have often been told since the 1992 report that the Church in Canada was effectively dealing with the problem.ÂThere has been much boastingÂthat Canada’s bishops were well ahead of the Church in the US on the same issue.

The task force conducted interviews with victims of clergy abuse and reported theirÂharsh criticizism ofÂtheÂthe wayÂin which bishops and diosesan staff responded to reported abuse.ÂThe report found “Their [victims’] perception is that the church’s actions and the measures it implements are aimed more at preserving the financial and pastoral integrity of the institution, protecting priests, even known abusers, and the systematic challenging of victims, rather than their protection.” These victims, the report continues, “were especially critical of the legal relentlessness of some dioceses toward victims seeking reparation” andÂrelated“a strong perception that the bishop is not accountable to anyone”.

The report calls for implementation of policies that Canadians likely will be shocked to learn have not already been in place long ago.

It recommends, for instance, that:
  * priests charged with abuse be put on leave with pay
  * priests convicted of abuse be removed from all ministry
  * each bishop make a formal, public commitment to a protocol on abuse prevention drafted by the CCCB
  * standing committees be set up in each diocese to deal with allegations and publish information in brochures, parish bulletins and Web sites so people know where to go with future complaints.

The elephant in the Canadian Catholic Church’s living room, now well acknowledged by the US bishops, is apparently still being assiduously ignored by the Canadian hierarchy. The reluctance of the CCCB to face widespread dissent from moral teachings and active homosexuality within Canadian Church institutions as the root causes of the crisis is reflected in the bureaucratic tangle of reports, ad hoc committees, task forces, and more reports they have implemented in response to the still on-going sex abuse crisis.

In the new report, the words “homosexual”, “homosexuality” or “dissent” do not appear once. US reports have shown that 80.9% of priestly sexual abuse has been of boys and young adolescent men. As well, evidence has indicated seminarians have often been preyed upon by other seminarians or by seminary staff and priests or other young men have beenÂassaulted by some bishops.

Since the 2002 storm of media exposés, criminal cases and litigation, the Catholic Church in the US has been in a constant state of crisis. The scrutiny has revealed a massive problem with homosexuals in the priesthood. There are, however, also numerous faithful and holy priests who have indicated they are heartbroken by the scandals and mistrust caused by fellow clergy at all levels. On the positive side, the purging and facing of harsh realities that has resulted has begun to produce serious reform isÂsome dioceses.Â

In his 2002 book, Good-bye Good Men, author and Catholic journalist Michael Rose exposed a seedy underground of homosexuals amongst the bishops and in seminaries that effectively turned much of the US priesthood into a “gay profession.” That the same underground exists in Canada is common knowledge among those who have themselves entered into or had a family member enter a Canadian Catholic seminary or religious order, although the situationÂhas beenÂimproving, in some cases dramatically,Âin some seminaries in recent years.ÂThe homosexual problem, however, is still taboo in official Church circles and poorly reported by Canada’s mostly very liberal secular and church media.

By the time the CCCB has exhausted its bureaucratic process on the latest report, the Vatican will have released its document that reportedly ordersÂadherence to the Church’sÂban on accepting homosexuals into seminaries or ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood. The document, from the Congregation for Catholic Education and Seminaries, indicates that Rome, unlike Canada’s bishops,Âunderstands the connection between homosexuality, dissent and the abuse crisis. The document has been approved by Pope Benedict and is to be released after the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October.

Many Catholic commentators are looking forward to the release of the new instruction with the hopeÂit will precipitate a general reform of the clergy. However, Canadian Catholics, including faithful priests, looking for a renewal of faithfulness among the clergy and who have observed the long term damage caused by the CCCB response to the birth control encyclical, Humanae Vitae in 1968, realize that widespread pressure from the faithful laity may be the only thing that willÂproduce decisive, required action.ÂÂ

  Read CCCB media release:

See the task force report:

The original From Pain to Hope document

Read extensive coverage of the sex abuse scandals in the Church: