Piecemeal Protections: The Canadian Church Struggles to Confront Sex Abuse

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It was early December of last year when I heard an extraordinary interview with a Canadian bishop on CBC Radio One, Canada’s premier English-speaking public broadcaster. Extraordinary, because it was thirty minutes long; extraordinary because it was on Sunday Edition, a coveted spot on the award-winning network’s flagship news roundup; and extraordinary most of all because it was a Canadian bishop being interviewed on the subject of clerical sex abuse in a way that was vigorously interrogatory without being adversarial.

Most importantly, the bishop, Thomas Dowd, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Montreal, was non-defensive, persuasively contrite, uncharacteristically spin-free and transparent in his responses, and genuinely warm and nonjudgmental in his pastoral approach.