In the beginning of September our Provincial, Fr. Erik Oland SJ, visited the Jesuit community of St. John’s NL. That visit coincided with the publication of the report of the Pennsylvania Investigating Grand Jury on sexual abuse in dioceses of that state, and with the sad 30th anniversary of the Mount Cashel orphanage affair. Both Erik Oland and Philip Shano SJ discerned their Jesuit vocation during that sombre time.
Philip Shano tells us in “Remembering Mount Cashel” how he discerned his Jesuit vocation literally in the courtyard of that macabre establishment. Erik Oland reminded the Jesuit community of St. John’s that he shared their suffering. Here is an excerpt from his homily:
We live in a broken world. God is not there to put a stop to it; we can ask for help, courage and inspiration, to sing loudly so that it resonates throughout the Church as a corporate cry: THIS HAS TO STOP. I don’t have the answers or an easy solution except to say that ever since I joined the Jesuits in the early 90s, itself a time of great pain here and for me personally, and having asked the question: do I really want to become a priest in this sinful, imperfect Church, I received the response "I will not leave you alone. Life can be tough; look what the world did to me… but I assure you whatever path you take, you will never be alone. I will be there to help."
That scandal was the beginning of a painful reflection for the Catholic Church in Canada. Indeed it was in the wake of this evil affair that the Candian Conference of Catholic Bishops created a policy for the prevention of abuses with the eloquent title of From Pain to Hope.
Seven years ago the Bishops’ Conference undertook the task of publishing this policy, in the light of incidences of abuse and pediphilia which had stained the life of the Church over the previous decades. To this end an ad hoc committee was established, presided by the Archbishop of Halifax – Yarmounth, Bishop Anthony Mancini.
At the latest meeting of the CCCB in Cornwall ON, the Canadian bishops were presented with the final version of that document. In an interview with Presence: Religious News, Bishop Mancini reiterated the vital importance of listening to the victims of sexual abuse.
This new policy for the prevention of abuse gives the Canadian Church clear guidelines and instructions for the effective protection of children and vulnerable adults.