(ZENIT News / Canadá, 03.14.2023).- For your interest, we reproduce the statement originally published on the Jesuit website about the names of some of its members accused of abuse against minors.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Over the past three or more decades, revelations of grievous abuse by clergy dating back many generations have come to light, and the Church has been slow to respond. Moving through phases of outright denial, victim blaming, and moral incompetence, the Church has begun to respond justly. All of this has undermined the credibility of an institution that, according to its own raison d’être, should have been a witness to all that contributes to the promotion of the moral dignity of each human person, rather than their humiliation. The trauma experienced by victims of abuse affects the whole person, including their ability to feel safe, trust others, and find meaning in life. As we have met with survivors, listened to their stories, and read the reports of their experiences, we have felt shame and become convinced that the only path forward is one of truth-telling, healing, and reconciliation.
In December 2019 I shared with the Jesuit Province and the wider public that the Jesuits of Canada were undertaking a comprehensive audit of all cases of abuse and boundary violations as a reference for current and future Provincials to help them in their governance and in dealing with such situations as might arise. It was also announced that the Province would publish names of those for whom there were credible accusations of the abuse of minors.
This is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Jesuits of Canada since the 1990s to address the reality of sexual abuse and its aftermath. We have developed comprehensive procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Additionally, we have established guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse, as well as prevention of sexual harassment. Every candidate who applies to the Society of Jesus undergoes a psychological evaluation to ensure they have the necessary foundations for healthy living as a Jesuit. In addition, all Jesuits participate in annual training on abuse prevention and living a healthy celibate life. The Jesuits of Canada enforce a zero-tolerance policy with regards to abuse.
The audit was undertaken with the assistance of independent investigator Brian King of King International Advisory Group beginning in early 2020. Three years later, impeded by delays related to the pandemic slowdown, the first level file review has been delivered and the list of Jesuits credibly accused of abuse of a minor has been published.
The vast majority of cases came to light after the alleged perpetrator was deceased. Some of those cases never went to criminal or civil litigation.
While as exhaustive a file review as possible has been done, it is still possible that other names may surface. The list must be considered a living document, which may be added to or modified in future as additional information is presented.
We cannot rewrite the past. We do wish to contribute to reconciliation, to right past wrongs and to rebuild trust. The undertaking of our audit and the decision to publish the names of those credibly accused express our commitment to transparency and accountability.
Not everyone will regard the publication of the list as a positive step. We are aware that seeing the name of an abuser in print can reopen old wounds. Nevertheless, we are publishing this list partly at the request of victims and victim advocacy groups to help promote healing, to recognize the magnitude of their trauma and suffering, to acknowledge their experience, and to promote justice and transparency. Resources for the support of victims and relatives, including relatives of the accused, are available. For more information in this regard please refer to this link.
The Jesuits of Canada, like the global Society of Jesus, are committed to walking with those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice. Since the 1990’s, we have learned much and been humbled and transformed by our encounters with victims of abuse. We know that we have more to learn. We ask your help in continuing to walk this path of healing.
Erik Oland, S.J.