Archdiocese of Montreal to implement standard code of ethics in all parishes
Published Tuesday, June 20, 2017 1:12PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 20, 2017 7:21PM EDT
The archdiocese of Montreal is bringing in new rules in order to better protect the vulnerable, including minors.
By 2020, all 194 Catholic parishes under the archdiocese, which includes Laval, Repentigny, and L'Assomption in addition to Montreal, will have to follow a new code of ethics, and some people will have to agree to be fingerprinted and undergo background checks.
The decision comes after a year-long pilot project that took place at ten parishes, including in Dollard des Ormeaux, as the Catholic Church copes with the aftermath of a slew of sexual scandals dating back decades.
Father Betrand Montpetit said implementing the uniform code of ethics was a necessary step toward restoring the credibility of the Catholic church.
The ethical rules are fairly straightforward and will apply to volunteers, staff, and clergy.
"They must take the commitment to never take a picture of children unless they have the parents' authorization, or to send personal emails to children, for example inviting them to go to a park," said Father Montpetit.
He said the rules are very similar to what was already practiced, but that it was useful to codify and standardize regulations across the organization.
"We didn't do that any more, anyway, before, but now it's formally said that we don't do these things to protect vulnerable people," said Father Montpetit.
Those who work closely with minors, or with vulnerable people including the elderly, will also have to submit to background checks by police.
Some volunteers and others questioned the need for being investigated, especially if they had been working or helping out for a long time, but the majority understood the need for background checks.
The regulations also include an agreement that no priest, volunteer, or other adult is ever alone with a child.
The church said it looked at rules and regulations that had already been implemented by other organizations, such as scouting and sports groups, in coming up with its code of ethics.