Updating our diocesan sex abuse reporting policy

One of the more difficult tasks I've had to do in my time as a bishop has been to receive complaints, and the most difficult of all has been receiving allegations of sex abuse against Church officials. Some of my work in this area is a matter of public record, but in addition to all that I've also helped work on background stuff like policy development. The Archdiocese of Montreal, for example, first put together its process for dealing with allegations of sex abuse back in 2003, but the detailed procedure was written up in 2019 by your truly following my very practical experience of actually doing a sex abuse investigation.

Now that I am in Sault Ste. Marie I'm learning that the bishops of Ontario have been asked to have their diocesan policies renewed. So I'm starting to take a look at ours. We've got the Montreal policy as well as the updated document from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as sources, as well as my own experience.

There are a few things I've rarely seen in these sorts of policies that I'd like to make sure are in place: how we communicate our policy and train people; how we make sure the policy is being continously improved; and how we verify that the process is actually being followed. Done right, this policy can be a prototype for the renewal of all diocesan legislation. But one step at a time.