Alberta bishops echo Pope Francis in responding to U.S. sex abuse scandal

Click to play video: '‘It was important that we spoke out as a church’: Calgary bishop responds to Pope’s letter on abuse'
‘It was important that we spoke out as a church’: Calgary bishop responds to Pope’s letter on abuse
WATCH: Bishop William McGrattan from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary joins Global News to discuss the importance of the Pope’s letter on abuse – Aug 22, 2018

In the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury naming more than 300 members of Catholic clergy involved in widespread sexual abuse of children, Calgary’s Catholic leader is looking to an open-door policy to help heal past abuses and prevent future ones.

“We hope that by opening ourselves to listen once again and inviting them to come forward that it won’t be swept under the carpet, it won’t be dismissed, that they will be listened to honestly,” said Bishop William Mcgrattan, “and we will try and address, as we said, either through counselling or compensation.”

Mcgrattan joined The Morning News on 770 CHQR to discuss the his response to the grand jury findings, as well as the response from Rome.

LISTEN: Calgary Bishop William Mcgrattan joins Gord and Sue on The Morning News with his response to the sexual abuse cases in Pennsylvania

“Given the release of that report, of the grand jury report in Pennsylvania, the magnitude of it — 70 years, over 1000 survivors of sexual abuse, and 6 dioceses in one state — it had a magnitude and an impact on all aspects of the church, and even here in Alberta.”

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“We shared the same grief and dismay, the fact that these atrocities took place, and that lives were harmed irreparably, and that we are responsible, and we can’t hide from this anymore and we need to break the silence and bring it to light.”

In a statement issued by the Catholic Bishops of Alberta, which Mcgrattan co-signed and was read in parishes throughout the province, the church leaders echoed Pope Francis’ statement, “[w]e showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

“We all have a sacred trust to protect those who are vulnerable, particularly children, and to stand up and speak when we witness that trust betrayed,” the bishops’ statement reads. “We have made Safe Environments and Abuse Prevention programs a high priority in our dioceses. We cannot run or hide from instances of abuse and harm, and we have no desire to do so.”

Mcgrattan told 770 CHQR the Calgary diocese has policies in place to take immediate steps against anyone who commits sexual abuse.

“If there are situations of clergy who are committing such abuse against children, that they would be removed from ministry immediately.”

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Mcgrattan admitted that the church’s policies need to be re-examined in light of the grand jury report revealing systematic cover-up of the abuses.

“I think we need to do an internal review to look at our current policies in light of what we’re learning from the grand jury. Are there things that we’ve missed in putting our policies together to address the sexual abuse in Canada? Can we learn and can we change our procedures so that they’re much more open to address this issue?”

On Sunday, Bishop Mcgrattan attended mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, making himself available after the bishops’ statement was read.

“There were a few [comments]. Some were very saddened and expressed their anger to me. Others, I must admit, I was given hope that some said, ‘Finally, you’ve spoken out. This is not something that has been addressed as publicly as it has been in our churches, and we thank you for that.’”

When asked about calls for the Catholic church to “clean out the top,” Mcgrattan acknowledged the resignation of US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the possibility of further removal of leaders in the Catholic church after investigation.

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“As we’ve seen with Pope Francis, he wants to make sure that we’re all morally responsible for our actions, and if not, then we should not continue in our present capacity of service and responsibility in the church.”

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