In the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan, we are committed to ensuring that our parishes, ministries and programs are places filled with the peace and joy that come with loving our Lord God and serving one another in charity and humility. Events of the recent past have shown us that a combination of prudent measures to prevent and properly respond to claims of harm will best ensure that no one, and most especially no child, youth or vulnerable adult, is subjected to exploitation, abuse, bullying, or any other form of physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual violence. These prudent measures are what make up our “Safe Environment Policy”.
The principal elements of the Safe Environment Policy are the Code of Conduct and the parish training sessions. We believe that education on and enforcement of these elements will make our faith communities attractive and nurturing places to be for everyone.
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan sets out the responsibilities and expectations for clergy, staff and volunteers who serve in the parishes and offices of the Archdiocese.
Everyone to whom it applies must understand it and abide by it, for the good of the Archdiocese, the faithful, and him or herself. The Code of Conduct describes attitudes and behaviours that are considered essential elements of any ministry in the Archdiocese. Before beginning to serve as clergy, staff or a volunteer in a high risk ministry, every candidate must read and sign Form 5.1.b, Ministry Suitability Form and Covenant of Care, indicating acceptance of this Code. All other volunteers must read and sign Form 5.1.c, Code of Conduct Acknowledgement.
Violations of the Code will be handled pursuant to Policy 5.2.1 Misconduct Policy of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan.
Creating a Safe Environment
In the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan, the principal features of a safe environment include:
- Procedures are in place to ensure that risks of harm to children, adolescents and vulnerable adults, in particular, are minimal and/or inadvertent.
- The physical environment for ministry and activities, especially as it relates to children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults, is designed to eliminate “private spaces” and to enhance visibility of all activities and interactions between individuals.
- Clergy, staff and volunteers are trained to respond immediately and effectively to incidents of harassment, bullying, and other threatening or harmful conduct.
- Confidential processes for reporting misconduct are in place.
- A published Misconduct Policy provides a transparent and accountable procedure for handling allegations of misconduct, exploitation, and abuse.
- Nobody and nothing is excluded from complying with the Code of Conduct and the Misconduct Policy.
All clergy, employees, and high risk ministry volunteers of the Archdiocese and its parishes are required to attend an orientation session on the policies of the Archdiocese, covering the Code of Conduct, creating a safe environment, and the Misconduct Policy of the Archdiocese. This session will normally be conducted in each deanery, once a year, by the Archdiocesan Coordinator of Responsible Ministry. All clergy, employees and high risk ministry volunteers in parishes of a deanery will be required to attend the session made available in their first year of service, and then at least every three years.
- Abuse: Regular and/or repeated cruel and violent treatment of a person. It may be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. It may or may not be criminal in nature.
- Bullying: Unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
- Exploitation of a ministerial relationship: Using another person for selfish purposes and/or using a position of authority or trust to gain a personal advantage or benefit.
- Harassment: Aggressive pressure or intimidation that may create a hostile or offensive environment for the victim.
- Ministerial relationship: A relationship involving trust and confidence that is based primarily upon the ministry offered by a priest or deacon or other minister to another person. Examples of ministry include counselling, spiritual guidance and the celebration of the sacraments.
Responding to Misconduct
- Responsibilities to report under the laws of Canada and Alberta
There is no positive duty under the Criminal Code of Canada to report criminal acts, e.g. assaults (harassment, bullying, physical and sexual assault) or theft, to police or other authority.
Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act of Alberta anyone who witnesses or suspects that a child has been or may be abused or neglected by a parent or guardian is obliged to report that information to a caseworker at the local Child and Family Services offices.
- Duty to report misconduct under the policies of the Archdiocese of Groaurd-McLennan
The organizational nature of the Archdiocese means that the parish priest will most often be the person who receives the initial report of a violation of the Code of Conduct.
It is widely understood that the physical or sexual abuse of a child, youth or vulnerable adult requires immediate involvement of, and investigation by, the police, other government services, and the Misconduct Policy Administrator of the Archdiocese.
However, other violations of the Code of Conduct may be more difficult to identify and respond to. People, especially volunteers, may find themselves questioning whether what they have witnessed or been told about warrants the intrusion of an investigation. We ask all our clergy, employees and volunteers to resist making this decision on their own. Please tell your parish priest, the Misconduct Policy Administrator, an officer of the Chancery, or the Archbishop about any behavior by a clergyman, employee or volunteer which appears to be a violation of the Code of Conduct. By discussing it, those involved should be able to clarify the need for any further steps to be taken. It will also allow for a record of the incident or incidents to be made. Do not ignore any situation that gives you pause.
All members of clergy and all employees of the Archdiocese and its parishes have a positive duty to report immediately any claims of incidents of misconduct by clergy, employees and/or volunteers. These may be incidents they personally witnessed, incidents they have been told about, and incidents of which they become aware and have a well-founded reason to believe occurred. The report may be made to a supervisor or to the Misconduct Policy Administrator (see Policy 5.2.1 Misconduct Policy).
Code of Conduct of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan
The Code of Conduct of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan applies to all members of the clergy, all paid employees of the Archdiocese and its parishes, and all volunteers in ministries of the Archdiocese and its parishes.
As a local faith community of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan upholds and promotes the values expressed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings and laws of the Catholic Church. These include, but are not limited to:
- Serving others in love, humility and sacrifice
- Respecting the dignity and well-being of every person
- Acting in justice and charity in every situation and relationship
The principal elements of the Code of Conduct of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan are: Accountability, Confidentiality, Respectful Attitudes, and Protection of Vulnerable People.
- Adhere to the published policies of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan and, if applicable, the parish where you serve.
- Comply with the elements of orientation and training provided to you for carrying out your ministry.
- Act always with integrity and take responsibility for your actions and words.
- Respect the hierarchy of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan.
- Follow the chain of reporting for your position.
- Do not exceed the authority of your position.
- Respect and maintain the confidentiality of any personal information you gain through your position.
- Respect and maintain the confidentiality of information related to the business and operation decisions of the parish and/or the Archdiocese gained through your position.
Respectful Attitudes and Behaviours
- Abuse of any kind is strictly prohibited.
- Harassment of any kind, including personal (physical and verbal), sexual, and cyber, is strictly prohibited.
- Personal harassment means any kind of discriminatory conduct, whether physical or verbal, directed at an individual and causes that individual substantial distress.
- Sexual harassment means any conduct, comment, gesture or contact of a sexual nature directed at an individual and is unwanted and/or unwelcome.
- Cyber harassment is using technological means of communication to direct sexual or discriminatory words, gestures, or images at an individual that causes that individual substantial distress.
- Bullying of any kind, including verbal, physical and cyber, is strictly prohibited. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
- Verbal bullying is the use of words and language to intimidate an individual in order to force him or her to do what you want.
- Physical bullying is the use of physical force or coercion against an individual in order to force him or her to do what you want.
- Cyber bullying is the use of technological means of communication in a threatening or an exploitative way against an individual in order to force him or her to do what you want.
- Mishandling and/or misappropriation of temporal goods (i.e. money and property) of the Church is strictly prohibited.
Protection of Vulnerable People
One-on-one meetings (e.g. counselling, reconciliation, education activities, home visits)
Children and adolescents
It is prohibited for one, unrelated, adult to be alone with a child or an adolescent when serving in or at an activity of a parish or the Archdiocese. There must always be two, unrelated adults present for any ministry to a single child or adolescent.
It is recommended that there always be two adults, preferably unrelated, present for any ministry that involves a single, vulnerable adult.
If ministry requires one-on-one for effectiveness or confidentiality reasons
If it is essential to serve a child, adolescent, or vulnerable adult one-on-one, then it must be done in a location that is entirely visible to other people. For example, in an open space but off to one corner; in a room with glass doors and/or window; if for the purposes of confession, a traditional confessional may be used, as long as the priest and penitent are entirely separated by a physical barrier.
Group activities and events
- Children and adolescents
In activities that involve groups of children and/or adolescents, there should always be two adults present, preferably unrelated, to offer instruction or supervision. These two adults must always be visible to one another during the activity or event. See Section 8 of the Policy Manual for Codes of Conduct that are specific to youth activities and events.
- Vulnerable adults
In ministry activities involving groups of vulnerable adults, there should be two adults present, preferably unrelated.
- Sacramental Preparation
The preparation of children for the celebration of the Sacraments of first Reconciliation, first Communion, and Confirmation is to be done in a group format, with at least two unrelated adults present. One-on-one instruction for children and adolescents is never permitted. The two adults must always be visible to one another.
- Liturgy of the Word with Children (“Sunday School”)
The Liturgy of the Word with Children during Sunday Mass is always to be conducted by at least two adults. It is preferred that the adults be unrelated to each other, but that may not always be possible in smaller communities. The two adults must always be visible to one another.
- Other catechetical and recreational programs for children and adolescents
Two unrelated adults are to be present for all recreational and catechetical programs.
Specifically for Clergy
The indefensible conduct of clergy across Canada and around the world that has been made public in recent decades makes it imperative that the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan spells out the prohibited behaviours for its priests and deacons.
- Sacrament of Reconciliation
The celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is always to be done in (a) a room which is open to the view of others, through a window or glass-paneled door; or, (b) in a traditional confessional where the priest and penitent are completely separated by a physical barrier.
The location of Reconciliation rooms and confessionals is to be in a high traffic area of the church building. Any new construction or renovation of Reconciliation rooms is to provide for clear glass openings, either as windows or in doors.
- Prohibition on guests in living quarters
Under no circumstances is a priest or deacon to use his living space, whether attached to or separate from the parish office or church, to host a child, adolescent or vulnerable adult, whether individually or in groups.
- Prohibition on travelling
Under no circumstances is a priest or deacon to travel with a child, children, an adolescent or adolescents or a vulnerable adult or adults, without the parent or legal guardian present.
- Prohibition on gifts
Under no circumstances is a priest or deacon to give expensive gifts to or accept expensive gifts from children, adolescents or vulnerable adults.
- Displays of affection
Priests and deacons are strongly discouraged from engaging in physical displays of affection with children, adolescents and vulnerable adults.
Approved and promulgated by the College of Consultors on 25 October 2016