By Lisa Zengarini
The New Canadian Reporting System for Bishops operates on a confidential, secure platform - ClearView ConnectsTM - that can be accessed by individuals online (BishopReportingSystem.ca) or via a toll-free number (1-866-892-3737) from anywhere in Canada, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in English or French.
The system was developed by ClearView Strategic Partners, a Canadian provider of an independent ethics reporting and whistleblowing platform. It is designed to receive and transmit to the proper Church authorities reports of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or cover-up by a Catholic Bishop.
The platform allows anyone wanting to make such a report to remain anonymous if he/she chooses so, and ensures that all communications are documented and preserved.
The new initiative is a direct response to the 2019 Apostolic Letter ‘Vos estis lux mundi’ (‘You are the light of the world’), in which Pope Francis calls on dioceses and eparchies throughout the world to establish one or more “public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports”, indicating the procedures to be followed in the Universal Church when allegations are made against a Bishop.
According to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Canada (CCCB) website, the reporting system for Bishops introduces an additional level of accountability for Church leadership in Canada, alongside the existing diocesan/eparchial protocols for reporting and responding to sexual abuse or other sexual misconduct by priests, deacons, religious, and mandated lay pastoral personnel.
Dr. Delphine Collin-Vézina, PhD, Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families, and Director of the Canadian Consortium on Child & Youth Trauma, has welcomed the move.
She says it is “an important step forward” towards creating “a climate of safety where the abuse of children and vulnerable people is not tolerated and their support “is paramount.”
“This system is rooted in a victim-first approach and aims to remove the multiple barriers that prevent disclosure,” Dr Collin-Vézina said.
She added that these “abuses have been silenced and covered up for too long, leaving victims and survivors unheard. I applaud this initiative led by the Bishops of Canada, which will hopefully facilitate healing and recovery for those who were abused.”
Canadian Bishops, on their part, have reiterated their full commitment against the “sin and crime” of sexual abuse and “to reach out and accompany victims-survivors along the path that restores justice and promotes healing”, expressing, once again, their deep regret for the suffering inflicted on them by offending Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity.
"With this reporting system," they point out, "the Bishops make themselves accountable to live with integrity and to address reports of sexual abuse according to Church and civil law."