Safe Environments

The policy for Safe Environments and the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults acknowledges the need to provide safe pastoral environments and protect those most vulnerable in our parish communities.

It establishes best practices not only to protect those to whom we minister, especially children, youth and vulnerable adults, but also to ensure the integrity, safety and reputation of those who minister, namely, clergy, religious, staff and church volunteers, and the ministries they provide.

Together, we can better promote wholeness, accountability, trust and care within the Church by fulfilling our spiritual, ethical, moral, and legal responsibilities.

Responsible Ministry

Overview
→ What is abuse?
→ Glossary and Further Reading

Screening and Training

→ For Volunteers and Parishes
→ For Clergy and Consecrated Persons
→ For Lay Employees and the Eparchy

Reporting and Responding to Abuse

→ Report Abuse
→ What happens when abuse is reported?
→ Care and Healing

Responsible Ministry

The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton is committed to providing a safe pastoral environment which is free from abuse for all of those to whom we minister, especially those who are the most vulnerable.

Overview

Intent of Safe Environments Policy

  • To provide clear directives in order to establish and maintain a safe pastoral environment which is free from abuse.
  • To provide clear directives to respond to allegations of abuse within the Eparchy of Edmonton.

 

Responsible Ministry

All parish and eparchial individuals providing ministry, including all clergy, religious, seminarians, laity, employees and volunteers, will:

  • undergo Volunteer and Employee Screening according to eparchial procedures to determine their suitability for ministry and/or employment
  • sign a Covenant of Care, thereby committing to follow all safe environment procedures, including adherence to the Code of Pastoral Conduct.

 

Safe Environments Training

Safe Environments Training teaches us how to identify abuse, not only in our Church, but also in our families and communities.  Safe Environment Training sets standards of appropriate behaviour so that non-appropriate behaviour is easily noticeable and can be addressed immediately. It teaches us when and how to report abuse to church and civil authorities.

Safe Environment Training is mandatory for:

  • all priests, deacons, sub-deacons, lectors, women and men religious, and monastics
  • all parish and eparchial employees and keyholders
  • all volunteers in a high-risk ministry involving youth and children, as well as pastoral care ministries to hospitals, care centres, nursing homes, private homes, etc.
  • all volunteers in a leadership role or those responsible for any parish or eparchial organization or committee, including all parish and eparchial Pastoral/Finance Council members, Volunteer Screening Coordinators and all presidents of parish and eparchial organizations such as UCBC, UCWLC, UCY, K of C, Centralia

 

Reporting Abuse

The Church takes seriously its responsibility to provide a safe pastoral environment within its parishes and ministries.  When an allegation arises, the Eparchy of Edmonton is committed to responding with compassion and in a timely manner, providing assistance to those in need of healing and reconciliation, and will take any and all means to prevent a future occurrence of abuse.

For all matters of abuse involving vulnerable persons, seniors, minors, church, properties/finances, bullying, etc. by any clergy, staff or lay volunteer within the Church, please contact our Eparchial Safe Environment Coordinator:

Confidential phone:          780 426 4176

Confidential email:            safe@eeparchy.com

The Eparchy of Edmonton is committed to responding to reports of abuse by any of our clergy, staff or lay volunteers promptly, openly and in full co-operation with child welfare authorities and/or police.

 

Care and Healing

The Eparchy of Edmonton is committed to spiritual care and healing by ensuring that:

  • those who bring forth allegations of abuse are treated with dignity and respect
  • spiritual care, counselling and support are made available to victims of abuse
  • the good reputation and the privacy of all persons involved are protected
What is abuse?

Abuse is any physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual behaviour:

  • which causes a person to fear for his or her physical, psychological, or emotional safety and well-being.
  • which the alleged perpetrator knew or ought to have reasonably known would cause that person to have concern or fear for his or her physical, psychological, or emotional safety and well-being.

Such behaviour may or may not be criminal in nature.

A key factor in some forms of abuse is a power imbalance, for example when the victim is exploited by a person in a position of authority, or where there is a significant age gap or economic asymmetry.

 

What are the types of abuse?

  • Physical Abuse: the use or threat of force or power to control, injure or abuse another person. Physical abuse also includes the intentional restriction of movement. Physical abuse does not have to leave a mark or a bruise.
  • Verbal Abuse: the use of language to manipulate, control, ridicule, insult, humiliate, belittle, vilify, or show disrespect or disdain to another. It may or may not use expletives. It may also be in written form, which includes electronic media. Such abuse includes but may not be limited to bullying, ridiculing, trivializing, harassing, accusing, blaming, denying, insulting, taunting, putting down, discounting, threatening, name-calling, yelling or raging.
  • Sexual Abuse: any actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature against an individual, including minors and vulnerable persons, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions; any inappropriate, unwanted and/or non-consensual sexual interaction, including rape, sexual assault, sex with a minor, sexual activity with a minor, and the use of a minor for sexual purposes and/or gratification. While most forms of sexual abuse against minors are contact abuse, non-contact sexual abuse of a minor includes sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual comments, and exposure to sexual acts, including pornography.  In the context of this policy, any inappropriate sexual interaction between a cleric, religious, employee or volunteer and an individual, including minors and vulnerable persons, with whom he or she has a ministerial relationship is considered sexual abuse.
  • Financial Abuse: the misuse of a vulnerable person’s funds or property through fraud, trickery, theft or force. Also, it can be the theft or misuse, for personal or private gain, of church money or property, which are also considered vulnerable entities.

 

What are the signs of abuse?

While this list is not exhaustive, in general it could apply to any victim of abuse, either a child, adult or any vulnerable person.

  • Unexplained injuries or injuries at varying stages of healing
  • Depression or withdrawal from regular activities previously enjoyed
  • Unusual changes in behaviour
  • Drastic mood changes
  • Decline in school or work performance
  • Self-destructive or risk-taking behaviours
  • Nervousness around certain people
  • Sexualized knowledge or behaviour that is outside what is considered age and developmentally appropriate
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in banking, wills or financial documents
  • Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions

 

Who is a vulnerable person?

Vulnerable persons include children, youth, the elderly, and all those who for any reason are not able to fully represent themselves or protect themselves from harm, including:

  • anyone of any age who might easily be exploited by another, including children, youth and some adults.
  • anyone who is at some disadvantage, unable to fully protect themselves from harm.
  • anyone who is at risk because of age, disability, handicap or circumstances such as emotional distress due to extreme crisis or trauma or desperate social or material need.

Vulnerability may be caused by anything that limits mature judgment and free activity.

 

What is a vulnerable entity?

Church money or property are considered vulnerable entities as financial abuse can occur as a result of their intentional misuse or theft for personal or private gain.

Glossary of Terms

The sources for this glossary include the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation, among others.  It serves as a reference for this policy and has no legal force.  Further authoritative sources shall be the Criminal Code of Canada, provincial/territorial statutes, and canon law.

Abuse: any physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual behaviour: (i) which causes a person to fear for his or her physical, psychological, or emotional safety and well-being; (ii) which the alleged perpetrator knew or ought to have reasonably known would cause that person to have concern or fear for his or her physical, psychological, or emotional safety and well-being. Such behaviour may or may not be criminal in nature. A key factor in some forms of abuse is a power imbalance, for example when the victim is exploited by a person in a position of authority, or where there is a significant age gap or economic asymmetry.

  • Physical Abuse: The use or threat of force or power to control, injure or abuse another person. Physical abuse also includes the intentional restriction of movement. Physical abuse does not have to leave a mark or a bruise.
  • Verbal Abuse: The use of language to manipulate, control, ridicule, insult, humiliate, belittle, vilify, or show disrespect or disdain to another. It may or may not use expletives. It may also be in written form, which includes electronic media. Such abuse includes but may not be limited to bullying, ridiculing, trivializing, harassing, accusing, blaming, denying, insulting, taunting, putting down, discounting, threatening, name-calling, yelling or raging.
  • Sexual Abuse: any actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature against an individual, including minors and vulnerable persons, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions; any inappropriate, unwanted and/or non-consensual sexual interaction, including rape, sexual assault, sex with a minor, sexual activity with a minor, and the use of a minor for sexual purposes and/or gratification. While most forms of sexual abuse against minors are contact abuse, non-contact sexual abuse of a minor includes sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual comments, and exposure to sexual acts, including pornography.  In the context of this policy, any inappropriate sexual interaction between a cleric, religious, employee or volunteer and an individual, including minors and vulnerable persons, with whom he or she has a ministerial relationship is considered sexual abuse.
  • Financial Abuse: the misuse or theft of Church funds or property. Also includes the misuse of a vulnerable adult’s funds or property through fraud, trickery, theft or force.

Allegation:  a complaint, still to be verified, claiming or asserting that someone has committed an act of sexual assault or abuse against an individual

Child: a person under 18 years of age.

Child pornography:  according to the Criminal Code of Canada (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 163.1), child pornography includes:

  • a photographic film, video, or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means, of explicit sexual activity with a person who is, or who is depicted as being under the age of 18 years
  • any written material, visual representation, or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 years
  • any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 years
  • any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation, or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 years.

Clergy: all members of ordained ministry: bishops, priests, deacons, and sub-deacons

Delegate:  the person named by the eparchial bishop to act on his behalf in relation to a specific issue or case

Eparchy: the term used by the Eastern Catholic Churches to denote ecclesiastical jurisdictions under the leadership of a bishop or an archbishop (also called an eparch or an archeparch)

Event: an occasional or one-time function or activity run by an eparchial office, institution, parish, camp or other approved organization

Grooming:  a method of manipulation used by an offender to build a relationship of trust with a child or vulnerable adult, as well as the adults around the child or vulnerable person, in an effort to gain access to and time alone with her/him in order to abuse the child or vulnerable adult

  • the offender will use subtle approaches designed to build relationships with families and may use threats and physical force in extreme cases
  • the offender may assume a caring role, befriend the child or even exploit their position of trust and authority to groom the victim and/or the victim’s family
  • grooming can include a wide variety of behaviours, such as spending large amounts of time with a victim, affording special privileges or providing gifts, trips and other expressions of special attention
  • the behaviours can also lead the person to feel indebted to the groomer for all these kindnesses. Once this bond of trust and indebtedness is established, the stage may be set for abuse/sexual abuse
  • The pattern of a groomer is made up of observable behaviours which must be challenged or reported.
  • Everyone should be alert to signs of grooming, including Church personnel and those who care for the vulnerable.

Harassment: can be a single severe incident or a persistent pattern of behaviour where the purpose or the effect is to create a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work or pastoral environment.  It encompasses a broad range of physical, written, or verbal behaviour, including, without limitation, the following:

  • physical or mental abuse
  • racial insults or derogatory ethnic slurs
  • unwelcomed sexual advances or touching, sexual comments or sexual jokes
  • requests for sexual favours used as a condition of employment or ministry, or to affect other personnel decisions, such as promotion or compensation
  • display of offensive materials
  • defamatory gossip or otherwise maligning an individual to other employees, volunteers, or parishioners except for formally reporting a serious concern to a supervisor or to civil authorities.
  • inappropriate social media postings

Ministerial relationship:  a relationship between a Church employee or volunteer and another person that has been established through the ministry provided on behalf of the Church

Ministry or Program: a structured series of similar activities governed and run by the Eparchy of Edmonton through its offices, parishes, camps or other approved organizations.

General Risk Ministry (choir member, cantor, greeter, hospitality team, etc.)

Includes those eparchial or parish volunteers or employees who:

  • do not require close contact with minors or vulnerable adults
  • are supervised directly or indirectly
  • perform duties in a strictly public setting
  • are not involved with parish or eparchial finances

High Risk Ministry (youth leader, parish treasurer, custodian, parish secretary, Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, Sunday School teacher, all clergy, employees, etc.)

Includes those eparchial or parish volunteers or employees involved who:

  • work with minors or vulnerable adults
  • work in an unsupervised setting where ministry, food, transportation or other necessities could be provided to minors and/or vulnerable adults
  • have access to confidential information
  • are entrusted with money, and/or parish and eparchial finances
  • are keyholders and have access to church property

Offender: a person who has committed an act of abuse, sexual or otherwise

Police Information Check (PIC): a process that verifies whether an individual has a criminal record and provides that individual with the detailed information regarding any criminal record that can be legally disclosed.  The process may also be called a Police Record Check (PRC) or a Criminal Record Check (CRC), depending on the police jurisdiction.  For the purposes of this policy, Police Information Check (PIC) refers to the process, regardless of which police service conducts it.

  • a Police Information Check (PIC) requested by an eparchial office, parish, camp, or other approved organization within the Eparchy of Edmonton is conducted by the police service to determine if an individual has a criminal record and/or a sexual offence conviction for which they have received a pardon that would exclude them from ministry within the church.
  • a “Clear” Police Information Check indicates that there is no record of criminal convictions in Canada’s National Repository for criminal records

Policy: a course or principle of action, with respect to the safeguarding of pastoral environments, adopted or proposed by an eparchy or institute

Preliminary investigation: The inquiry carried out either directly by the eparchial bishop, or through a delegate, in response to information received concerning an allegation.

Protocol: the official procedure or system of rules governing the manner in which alleged and proven cases of sexual abuse of minors are addressed by Church leadership

Position of trust: a particular role where a Church volunteer or employee in ministry establishes a trusting relationship with individuals because of their authority in that ministry.

Qualified adult: an individual (clergy, employee, volunteer) who has been properly screened for ministry within the Eparchy of Edmonton and who has taken safe environment training

Religious: persons who, by professing the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, obedience) through public vows approved by the Church or other sacred bonds approved by the Church, are consecrated to God

Risk Assessment: a process by which programs are rated according to risk factors

Safe Environments Advisory Committee:  a group of individuals who investigate all complaints regarding abuse of children, youth and vulnerable adults assigned to it by the bishop or the bishop’s delegate and makes recommendations within an appropriate timeframe to the bishop or appropriate persons regarding actions to be taken, including the temporary suspension of the accused clergy or religious.

Sexual Exploitation:  the use of one’s position of power or trust to have sexual contact or attempted sexual contact with another person.  Sexual exploitation includes but is not limited to such activity as intercourse, kissing, touching of breasts or genitals, dating during the course of a ministerial relationship, any form of communication indicative of sexual involvement, or demeaning sexual comments.  The apparent consent of a possible victim does not determine whether there has been sexual exploitation, because the imbalance of power between the pastoral care giver and the person in a pastoral relationship undermines the validity of an apparent consent.

Screening: a process designed to

  • create and maintain a safe environment for children, youth and vulnerable persons
  • foster an appropriate match between the volunteer and a particular ministry
  • protect volunteers and employees
  • safeguard limited Church resources

Volunteer: a person who is involved in eparchial or parish ministries or programs but not in a leadership role and not receiving remuneration.  Volunteers can include priests, deacons, religious and/or lay persons.

Volunteer Coordinator: a person designated by the eparchial office, parish, camp, or other approved organization, to maintain records of the volunteers involved with ministries and programs and coordinate training requirements of the same volunteers

Volunteer Leader: a person who takes a leadership position with any ministry, including ministries that involve direct interaction with children, youth or vulnerable persons. Example positions include: youth leader, camp counsellor, Sunday School Coordinator, Pastoral Council Chair, building maintenance manager, etc.

Victim: refers to a person who has suffered abuse.

Vulnerable adult: A person defined as an adult by secular statutes, but who lacks an adult mental capacity or who, by reason of advanced age, physical illness, mental disorder, or disability might be unable to protect himself or herself from significant harm or exploitation. Therefore, an adult who habitually lacks the use of reason is considered incapable of personal responsibility and is to be considered equivalent to a minor according to canon law and for the purposes of this document

Vulnerable Persons:

  • anyone of any age who might easily be exploited by another, including children, youth and some adults
  • anyone who is at some disadvantage, unable to fully protect themselves from harm
  • anyone who is at risk because of age, disability, handicap or circumstances such as emotional distress due to extreme crisis or trauma or desperate social or material need
  • vulnerability may be caused by anything that limits mature judgment and free activity

Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC):  a process that verifies whether an individual has a criminal record, as well as any record suspensions (formerly pardons) for sexual offences and local police records for information relevant to the check.  A Vulnerable Sector Police Information Check (VSC) includes a check of local police records to determine the existence of a pattern of behaviour that may result in harm to vulnerable persons, including minors.

  • a VSC is required for high risk ministry volunteers or employees in a position of trust or authority over children under 18 years of age, and/or with the elderly, the disabled or any vulnerable person

Youth: a person who is under 18 years of age.

Further Reading

Government of Alberta “Abuse and Bullying,” https://www.alberta.ca/abuse-bullying.aspx

Canadian Centre for Child Protection, www.protectchildren.ca

Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council, www.albertaelderabuse.ca

CCCB Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation, https://eeparchy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Protecting_Minors_2018.pdf

Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minorshttps://www.vatican.va/content/romancuria/en/istituzioni-collegate-con-la-santa-sede/pontificia-commissione-per-la-tutela-dei-minori.index.html