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Priests and anyone else in “the orbit of the church” will be forbidden from being alone with children and other vulnerable people as part of a pilot project, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal said Thursday. The goal is to create a “safety net” for everyone associated with the Catholic Church in Montreal, canon François Sarrazin said in an interview. “Imagine if you are alone in a room and a child accuses you of hitting them, how will you react?” Sarrazin asked. “Whether it’s true or not, you need a witness. Not being in the room alone with someone who is vulnerable is simply being prudent.” He said the policy will be introduced in a handful of churches across the city, starting in September. For Carlo Tarini, a spokesman for an association of victims of priests, the new rules are “too little too late.”
He said the policy is just a way for the church to protect itself against lawsuits stemming from child-abuse scandals that have rocked the city’s diocese and the Roman Catholic Church across the globe. The church “knows that victims have gotten help from lawyers and have been successful in court and they will push forward for compensation when such cases are made public,” Tarini said.
Many clergy I know have been practicing this on their own, as a safeguard. It’s always best to make sure another adult is in the room, and that the door is always open. Private meetings, one-on-one, with a minor? No.