Canada’s Catholic bishops have come up with some new regulations they say will help protect victims of sexual abuse and prevent it from happening within the church.

Back in 2014, the Canadian Catholic Diocese began work on a document to update the norms and practices across the country, with an emphasis on protecting and preventing and being proactive on all cases of sexual abuse.

The document, called Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse, was released last week.

Now, Calgary’s Roman Catholic Diocese says the new process will help them to be more proactive in sex abuse cases and the Diocese has taken the unusual step of holding a press conference to name and suspend a Calgary priest over unproven allegations of sexual misconduct involving two sisters twenty years ago, when one of them was still a minor.

Father Peter Hung Cong Tran, who most recently worked as a priest in the St. Francis of Assisi Parish, worked in Vancouver when the alleged incidents took place. Police in Vancouver told CTV that they are not ivestigation Tran, and none of the allegations have been tested or proven in court.

Calgary’s Bishop William McGrattan says that the pervasive reality in society and the church needs to be dealt with properly.

“This is why the diocese want to embrace these new protocols that are being called for by the Canadian church. I want to state, categorically that I am committed to making sure that every child and every vulnerable adult is safe in our diocese. That will call for a greater accountability and I am accountable to the victims and families to hear them and silence and shame should not prevent their voices from speaking about such horrendous crimes that they may have experienced.”

Father Timothy Boyle, bishop’s delegate, says that along with the situation involving Father Tran, there has been one conviction of a priest in the Calgary diocese.

“[Tran] has been suspended from his work and that investigation is ongoing. Recently we extended an invitation to the parish where he was serving to ask if anyone had any encounters with him that were inappropriate or any violations, anyone like that to come forward. Should anyone come forward, we have a very robust procedure of investigation.”

Patricia Jones, the head of the Sexual Misconduct Committee and CEO of Catholic Family Service, says a hotline has been in operation since August 2018 and she’s fielded about two to three calls per week from people with allegations of sexual abuse.

“Many of these calls are from folks with historical abuse, seniors who are trying to process the experience and just have a need to be heard. That’s an important service to offer.”

Jones says the role of the Sexual Misconduct Committee will also review the new document to make sure that it’s as robust as it can be.

“Because we know that faith can bring healing to survivors, they are offered all the spiritual and pastoral and community resources of which they may wish to avail themselves to bring healing in their lives.”

McGrattan says that more training is also essential for all people who work in the church.

“We need to be more vigilant, to be more proactive in allowing our parishioners and those who volunteer and our clergy, to receive the proper training which they already do. But to make sure they are aware of the aspects of sexual abuse that might be present in our parish communities.”

The diocese encourages anyone who feels that they have been a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the church to first contact Calgary police, but they are always open to speaking with anyone about their concerns.

For more information on the new protocol, you can visit the Calgary Catholic Diocese website or consult the full document below: