. . . except to add another burden to the lives of good priests who don't deserve it. The Guardian reports:
Catholic priests in Montreal will be banned from being alone with children to provide a “safety net” against allegations of abuse.
. . .
Implementation of the policy is to begin with a pilot project involving a dozen parishes from September, and will subsequently be rolled out across the diocese.
The policy would cover anyone “in the orbit of the church” to create a “safety net”, Canon Francois Sarrazin told the Canadian Press.
“Imagine if you are alone in a room and a child accuses you of hitting them, how will you react?” Sarrazin said. “Whether it’s true or not, you need a witness. Not being in the room alone with someone who is vulnerable is simply being prudent.”
. . .
The policy was dismissed as “window dressing” by David Clohessy of the US-based Snap (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) ... “We’ve literally seen hundreds of policies, procedures, protocols and pledges like this that sound good on paper but are virtually never enforced. So we are extremely sceptical.”
There's more at the link.
Mr. Clohessy is exactly right. This is nothing more or less than pious window-dressing. Bad priests will be able to avoid detection and get around this prohibition without much difficulty - just as they always have. If they're not obeying the commandments of God and refuse to heed Christ's explicit warning, what makes the Archbishop of Montreal think they'll obey him? Moreover, good priests will now have their lives made much more difficult. How, precisely, are they supposed to provide confidential counseling, or sacraments such as reconciliation (i.e. confession), to younger people if they aren't allowed to be alone with them? It also tars them with the same brush as priests guilty of child abuse; in other words, they're regarded as guilty until proven innocent.
Those are two of the bigger reasons why I walked away from the priesthood in 2005. Celibacy had nothing to do with it; nor did doctrinal disagreements with the Catholic Church. I simply refused to accept being regarded, officially, by my religious superiors, as 'guilty until proven innocent', merely because of the fact that I was a priest. Furthermore, I refused to lie to the faithful, and tell them (as I was instructed to do) that the bishops were handling the child sex abuse scandal in an orderly and proper manner, and that the people of God could trust their leadership. I knew at first hand - and had evidence to prove it - that this was false.
It's absolutely tragic that nothing seems to have changed. The people of God deserve better . . . but they're not getting it. If this is an example of the official attitude of the Catholic Church, I fear they never will.
EDITED TO ADD: From a reader, via e-mail:
What was especially disturbing was the self-serving rationale offered by Sarrazin:Quite so.
“Imagine if you are alone in a room and a child accuses you of hitting them, how will you react?” Sarrazin said. “Whether it’s true or not, you need a witness. Not being in the room alone with someone who is vulnerable is simply being prudent.”His main motivation is the protection, not of the children, but of the priests. How sadly typical.