Church takes responsibility for abuse
City counsellor says road to healing is open

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 26/97) - The eight Roman Catholic bishops of Northern Canada released their second statement on family violence earlier this month, taking responsibility for their role in past abuses of parishioners.

In the statement, the bishops admit that "acting and speaking as if some people do not deserve as much respect as others has become part of our institutions, conversations, jokes, advertising and decision-making.

"As an institution and as individuals even we in the church have contributed to this situation."

Revs. Thomas Lobsinger, Joseph Baril Vincent Cadieux, Denis Croteau, Henri Goudreault, Reynald Rouleau, Peter Sutton and Gerald Wiesner released the statement March 9.

Though the statement did not attract widespread attention outside of the church community when released, at least one Yellowknife counsellor welcomes the admission.

Terry Garchinski, of the Life Works counselling service, has been following the bishops' statements and said he feels this statement will open the doors to healing for some of his clients.

Garchinski said he believes the bishops have taken responsibility, apologized and acknowledged that the church, as a community, has acted in an abusive, racist and prejudicial way in the past.

Garchinski added these former abuses have contributed specifically to aboriginal people's cultural loss, hurt and shame.

But, he said, with acknowledgment comes healing -- both for the people and the church.

The statement identifies women, children, seniors and people with disabilities as primary victims of family violence. These are people who have been prone to physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual or spiritual abuse.