Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 10, 2002
CWL stands against child abuse
League seeks ban on pedophile priests
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Alberta-Mackenzie provincial council of the Catholic Women's League wants Canada's Catholic Bishops to act firmly and decisively against priests who abuse children sexually.
A resolution approved at the League's 55th annual convention here May 31-June 1 urges the bishops to bar pedophile priests from positions of authority and trust over children and adolescents.
"We would like to see our Church take firm steps which would leave no doubt as to its genuine desire to eradicate the phenomenon of sexual abuse," reads a brief accompanying the resolution.
Submitted to the convention by the CWL's Edmonton Archdiocesan Council, the resolution urges the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops "to assure the Catholic laity of the protection of all children and adolescents by developing and implementing a consistent policy of never placing any priest or agent of the Church who has been convicted of sexual abuse of a child or adolescent in a position of authority and trust over children or adolescents."
The resolution warns that recidivism rates among sexual abusers of children are high and that child molesters often seek positions of authority over children and adolescents.
All 252 convention delegates voted in favour of the resolution, which will be forwarded to the upcoming CWL's national convention for consideration. The national convention will be held in New Brunswick in mid-August.
Delegates supported the resolution unanimously "because they are afraid for their children and want to ensure they are protected," said CWL provincial president Connie McBride.
She said the purpose of the resolution is to simply tell the bishops what lay people are thinking. "It's also a show of support for the 97 per cent of priests who are living good and healthy lives."
"It's very important that the CWL send a message to the bishops that they can no longer hide their heads in the sand and that they have to be accountable," said a delegate whose son was abused by a priest over two decades ago.
"We should be putting more emphasis on programs for the victims (than for the abusers)," said the woman, who asked that her name not be printed.
A second resolution submitted by the Edmonton Archdiocesan Council concerns Christian freedom being at risk in Canada.
It calls on the federal government to develop an official protocol that will ensure the inclusion of Christian prayer at all federal functions where prayer is called for. This resolution will also be forwarded to the CWL's national convention for consideration.
Background on the resolution notes that the Sept. 9, 1998 memorial service for the victims of the Swiss Air disaster at Peggy's Cove, N.S. and the Sept. 19, 2001 Parliament Hill service for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States were bereft of common prayer and of any mention of faith and even God himself.
At the Swiss Air crash memorial, Christian leaders were asked to remove any mention of Jesus or the New Testament from their speeches while leaders of other faiths faced no such restrictions, noted delegate Cecile Gannon, who spoke on the resolution on behalf of the Edmonton Diocesan Council.
She said restricting Christian prayer violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, and the belief of the majority of Canadians. According to a 1991 Statistics Canada census cited by Gannon, 83 per of Canadians are Christians.
"It's not a sin for a nation to pray in public," she said. "Christian religious freedom is at risk in Canada."
Several speakers addressed the event between business meetings, including Newman College president Dr. Christophe Potworowski, who spoke on the reason for charity and Oblate Father Mike Dechant, who spoke on the convention's theme The Open Door . . . Salt of the Earth, Light of the World.
St. Paul Bishop Luc Bouchard gave a biblical reflection on the idea of the open door. Delegates also heard from a panel of youth on their hopes and expectations of World Youth Day and from their national president, Vivian Bosch, who lead a workshop on leading the league.