Archdiocese of Montreal | A necessary culture change, according to the Ombudsman

(Montreal) Almost a year after the creation of his position, the ombudsman of the Archdiocese of Montreal points out that a “significant culture change” is still necessary to put an end to certain behaviors and prevent the treatment of complaints from being “only a smokescreen.” so the victims will pay the price.”

Updated on April 19

Frédéric Lacroix-Couture
the canadian press

In his third report released Tuesday, Mr.Y Marie Christine Kirouack scolds some Church members for their attitude to complaints.

It highlights in particular the delays in the progress of the investigations “caused by the resistance to change of some who voluntarily, by omission, negligence or refusal, do not transfer the requested documents.”

The failure to follow up on the recommendations and the writing of letters that leave much to be desired and give the impression that the alleged facts are a misinterpretation by the complainants were also raised by the Ombudsman.

But most problems related to handling complaints are the result of a lack of organization, said Ms.Y Kirouack in The Canadian Press.

“I am not ready to say that in all cases it is ill will. In some cases yes, but in others it is an organizational problem”, he argued.

Although “the last few months have been difficult”, MY Kirouack says his presence is welcomed in the archdiocese. Many are happy to have a clear complaints process in place to regain public trust.

Called to react to the report, the Montreal Archbishop’s office referred The Canadian Press to Bishop Christian Lépine’s statement in a press release.

“The Archdiocese of Montreal continues its process of transformation. Already, in nine months, we have established a first-of-its-kind training program for Archdiocesan staff and staff assigned to the parish. We are also committed to constantly improving our internal procedures to better prevent and monitor the handling of complaints,” he said.

Supervise “characteristic” priests

There must also be a change in culture regarding behavior on a psychological level, said Ms.Y Kirouak.

“The abuse of words, of character, is no longer acceptable. You have to put aside the kind of impunity that is linked to having a kind of status within the Church, it’s over, ”she says.

Since taking office, a number of complaints refer to “difficulties between staff and members of the clergy or disagreements between members of Church Councils and a member of the clergy,” the report reads.

METERY Kirouack invites the archdiocese to reflect deeply on the future of these “angry” and “always impatient” priests who annoy everyone.

If some of these behaviors do not represent abuse, they are still unacceptable and require “solutions that strictly control these ‘characteristics’”, mentions the Ombudsman.

Transferring them to another parish is not a solution to eradicate the problem, according to her.

“In the non-clerical world, it’s easy, they get kicked out,” said Ms.Y Kirouack, but the situation is complicated by a member of the clergy.

Calls to put “meat on the bone” to have strict measures that prevent the resumption of the denounced conduct; a sanctions policy is expected soon.

listening to your story

Since May 2021, the Ombudsman’s Office has received 95 complaints, of which about fifty are related to sexual, physical, psychological or economic abuse that occurred in the last 70 years, the report details.

Of the ten withheld complaints related to abuse, investigations are ongoing. Three investigation reports have also been presented that conclude that the alleged acts have been committed.

Some victims of abuse also find comfort only in contacting the ombudsman, said Mr.Y Kirouak.

“There are people who just after talking to me, decided not to file a complaint. […] They needed someone to listen to their pain,” he said.

The Montreal Archdiocese Ombudsman was created following an independent report released in November 2020 on the handling of complaints received about former priest Brian Boucher.

This article was produced with the financial support of Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.

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