Letter from the Director re: US Clergy Sexual Abuse Report

Letter from the Director of Education
Posted on 08/16/2018
Dear families, staff, and supporters of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board:

In recent weeks and months, the Catholic Church in the United States—and in many parts of the world—has been shaken by shocking revelations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, and by indications that some Church leaders were aware of these allegations, and chose not to act on them (often enabling further abuse to take place). The most recent revelations have come in a 1300-page report from dioceses in Pennsylvania, which seem to suggest abuse by hundreds of priests over the last 70 years, involving more than 1000 victims. Here in the Canadian context, our dioceses have been grappling with these issues for nearly thirty years, since the first revelations were made about abuse in the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland.

These revelations are a source of profound shame for Catholics throughout Canada and the world. They represent a betrayal of the message of Jesus, and are absolutely contrary to the nature and mission of the priesthood—which is to provide loving pastoral care, especially to the weakest and most vulnerable. We feel the pain of these scandals, and we know that many of our clergy feel stigmatized by these statistics. This is a time of great suffering and humiliation, which has scandalized many people and led them to abandon our faith.

As a people of faith, we are committed to compassionate listening to the victims, to supporting and respecting them in their efforts to share their experiences and seek justice for the irreparable harm done to them. We commit ourselves to be diligent in using the best available tools and processes to ensure that the young people entrusted to us are cared for in an environment of love and safety, consistent with the values which guide Catholic education. We also wish to reaffirm our respect and love for the many, many faithful and compassionate priests in our communities, who truly image Jesus the Good Shepherd in their day-to-day ministry. While these numbers are staggering, we realize that they do not represent the vast majority of our clergy.

Our Church is passing through a time of crisis and pain. We must learn from the mistakes of the past, and continue to work for the safety and care of all those who are young or vulnerable in our school settings and communities. We must pray for those whose lives have been scarred by these events, and listen with compassion to their experiences. We must constantly seek to live out our Christian faith in ways that are life-giving, generous, respectful and consistent with the teachings of Christ. Our shame over these events must not lead us to be ashamed of Jesus and His words, which continue to guide us, shape us and challenge us as we go forward. Christ weeps over actions such as these, and we weep also.

To anyone who has experienced abuse or sexual misconduct, we promise that we take all such claims extremely seriously, and will ensure that they are reported and investigated. We will continue to work diligently with our school and system leaders to support all students, staff members, and families entrusted to our care. Should anyone have any questions or concerns, please contact us at your convenience.


Brian Beal 
Director of Education 
Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board 
705 722-3555, ext 223