[Éditorial de Louise-Maude Rioux Soucy] The good faith of the Archdiocese of Montreal is not enough

The transplant does not take place between the Archdiocese of Montreal and its independent ombudsman, whose holy anger expressed this week seems perfectly justified. Since taking office in May 2021, lawyer Marie Christine Kirouack has not been idle, producing no less than five detailed reports. That his most recent report, made public on Monday, also turns out to be the most severe of the lot is cause for serious concern for the continuation of this forced pas de deux, which seems more and more out of tune.

Key recommendation of the Capriolo report, tabled in 2020, the arrival of an ombudsman was to ensure the reception and follow-up of complaints for abuse or inappropriate behavior committed by a priest, a deacon, a staff member or a volunteer. Gold, M.e Kirouack notes that, since the spring, when his mandate was extended to complaints that have not been dealt with satisfactorily in the past, he has been stepped on more and more. Without even bothering.

The exercise supposed to make the accumulation of complaints received to date – 188 in total, including 64 for abuse – starts rather on a denunciation in order. The work of M.e Kirouack has been compromised in several ways by members of the Montreal Church in recent months. The list of her grievances is overwhelming: incomprehensible time taken to process abuse files, overcrowding, inexcusable breaches of confidentiality, unforgivable interference, intimidation of the staff with whom she collaborates… Until the filing of a complaint at the Barreau du Québec, that Mr.e Kirouack received it as a threat and moreover submitted as such to the moderator of the curia.

Determined to align her steps with those of the Archdiocese, Ms.e Kirouack says she gives the benefit of the doubt to her leader, whose “good faith” she does not question. In the same breath, she nonetheless specifies that Ms.gr Christian Lépine “lacks force in applying the rules” and argues that he is “most likely” badly advised.

We find her very magnanimous. For anyone looking at all this from the outside, it is clear that Mgr Lépine must pull himself together and assume the leadership expected of him.

It is possible for a pupil to get by by reciting his teachings piously. Sooner or later, he will still have to stop mumbling to reason for himself. This is the challenge that awaits the Archdiocese of Montreal. On paper, the organization did what the Capriolo report on the sexual assaults committed by priest Brian Boucher demanded: many protocols, regulations, procedures and other policies were indeed drafted and approved in the process, writes Judge Pepita Capriolo in a letter appended to the ombudsman’s report.

However, between what was agreed in writing and what is now applied in the field, the step now seems “too big” to the retired judge, who simply no longer believes in it. Seeing that she found it hard to endorse a report showing such incomprehensible processing times, but, above all, abuse and interference of all kinds, Judge Capriolo explains that she had no choice but to resign from the committee. of transition in which she had invested herself body and soul.

This resignation, coupled with the devastating report of Mr.e Kirouack, should be taken as a strong warning. At this time last year, the ombudsman noted that the last few months had been marked by the period of adolescence specific to any new process. She certainly did not imagine that the resistance to change she deplored then would grow as the process matured. However, the ombudsman must be able to do his work in peace, without hindrance.

The Archdiocese of Montreal will have to regain its confidence, like that of the victims. For this, M.gr Lépine would do well to take up the recommendations of the Capriolo report one by one in order to act where his organization’s word has not yet been translated into action, as with this training course – mandatory, however! — shunned by two-thirds of people targeted by the Virage program who are victims of abuse.

Without this, the Archdiocese of Montreal will never be able to become the example of transparency to which it aspires.

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