A Statement by the Serra Canada Council to our Fellow Serrans on Sexual Abuse by Priests, Religious, Deacons and other ministers in the Canadian Catholic Church
The Serra Council of Canada strongly supports the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in their message of hope for the healing of the victims of sexual abuse by priests, religious, deacons and other ministers. Our bishops call on the Catholic faithful to be part of the “Healing, Reconciliation and Transformation” necessary to help victims, so damaged in soul and body.1 At the same time, they also call on the faithful to be part of the healing of the Church.
In our objectives of promoting vocations to the ordained and religious life, Serrans are sometimes questioned by other members of the lay faithful, who, in light of the current crisis, ask us why we continue to do the work we do, and why they should join us. We can respond by re-stating the Serra objectives, making sure to highlight that we are now even more aware of our responsibility to ensure that we are supporting suitable candidates for the priesthood, while continuing to support and affirm all the faithful ordained and religious who serve us so well. We can assure them that the Canadian bishops have pledged to ‘work towards a new understanding of the role of clergy in society and the spiritual underpinnings necessary for healthy ministry’2 and to ‘expand on new forms of ministry which rely on greater collaboration with the laity in the spirit of mutuality and co-responsibility.’3
Serrans recognize that this co-responsibility must be exercised in the identification of behaviour that damages ‘healthy ministry’ at each and every level, from formation onwards. Such behavior needs to be disclosed to the relevant diocesan authorities for the greater good of the Body of Christ.
As responsive Serrans, we will increase our already developed practices of prayer, fasting, sacrifice, accompaniment, friendship and support for the priests, religious, deacons and seminarians whom we seek to encourage. In promoting vocations we will reject any form of clericalism, denounced by both our Pope and bishops, and will be part of the call to ‘openness to changes in the way ministry is exercised.”
In so responding, we will also honour and acknowledge the victims of sexual abuse by helping them in the process of healing and reconciliation: such healing and reconciliation, as our bishops remind us, are essential for victims and for all of us, as we work towards the transformation of the Church.
Mary, Mother of vocations, pray for us!
St Junipero Serra, pray for us!
St Joseph, patron saint of Canada, pray for us!
1. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation and Transformation. CCCB Publications, Ottawa, 2018.
2. Ibid. P 40