Archdiocese of Vancouver Releases Updated Report on Scope of Clergy Abuse
Last November, church officials in Vancouver released a report on the extent of clergy sexual abuse in their archdiocese. Now, they are releasing an updated report that includes information on the steps that church officials have taken since 2019 as well as information regarding newly-reported abusers.
We appreciate the information released by the Archdiocese of Vancouver and recognize that they are being more transparent than many other dioceses and archdioceses. At the same time, we cannot help but recognize the sanitizing language and inferences made by the authors of this report. If church officials in Vancouver truly want parents and parishioners to appreciate the steps they have taken, they should avoid equivocation and minimization.
For example, the report repeatedly makes references to the “1960s and 1980s” or “40 and 50 years ago” in an effort to claim that the abuse crisis in the past, but such claims and inferences are ignorant of the science and data regarding sexual abuse reporting. The fact is, the average age of a survivor coming forward is 52, meaning that victims of abuse from the 1990s and 2000s are most likely still suffering silently or have yet to report their abuse to law enforcement or church authorities. Church officials would do well to recognize these facts instead of trying to insinuate that all clergy abuse cases are old and that the abuse crisis is no more.
Similarly, there are updates in the report that seem confusing or inaccurate. For example, bullet point #4 in the “Progress Made” heading claims that all honors and awards named after abusive priests have been removed, yet this bulletin from June 2020 shows that there was still at least one school with an award named after Fr. John Kilty. We hope church officials will clarify and update this point.
We appreciate the work that church officials have done to update policies and procedures but continue to believe that the best way for future crimes to be prevented and for current children to be protected is through the involvement of secular officials and laypeople. Survivors, especially, should be included on the new committees and review boards being created and we call on church officials in Vancouver to reach out to survivor advocates within their borders and ask for their expertise, input, and advice.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)