Category Archives: Archdiocese of Regina

Open letter to all those who have been wounded by the effects of clergy sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Regina

Good Friday, 2021

As I write to you today, I am mindful of the agony resulting from the scourge of clergy sexual abuse that was perpetrated on each and every victim. The parallels between the crucifixion of Jesus that we remember today are mirrored by the desecration of body, mind and soul of victims. We can never stop saying we are sorry, but that is not enough; we must take action to bring about change, transparency and accountability.

Over the last four years we have listened to, walked with, and began to really understand who our best teachers are: it is you, the victims. Thank you for showing us a way forward. Thank you for your courage in sharing the pain and torment that is your individual lived experience, your truth. Thank you for showing and reminding us that we must do better.

Early in my tenure as Archbishop, a core working group was established. The mandate of the Core Working Group, with direct input from victims, is to have an open transparent and accountable process to discern the overall direction of the archdiocese in responding to the legacy of clergy sexual abuse and in taking action to prevent further abuse from occurring. The Core Working Group works in the drafting, implementation and oversight of the Clergy Sexual Abuse Policy, and reviews this policy on a semi-annual basis with the possibility of updating it. They also review other policies which relate to clergy sexual abuse and its prevention. The Core Working Group oversees education and formation initiatives on the life-long consequences of clergy sexual abuse, on accompaniment of victims, and on the recognition and prevention of potentially abusive behaviour. None of these initiatives are undertaken without consultation from victims.

Thanks to significant input from victims, we have been able to look at where and how to move forward. Prior to Covid, prayer services were being held in every deanery and in many parishes. Every service had at least one victim as part of the writing process. The aim was to have at least one victim present at each prayer service. These services provided an opportunity for the larger church to hear your anguish.

In addition to the prayer services, education has become a key component in working toward transparency and accountability. Each educational event has presented the voice of a victim, allowing non-victims to hear in often painful ways the truth of how clergy sexual abuse affects people. Education will be an ongoing process and victims’ voices will not be silenced, but rather celebrated for their courage in bringing clergy sexual abuse into the light.

Each time we ask a victim to help us, we recognize that their wounds are reopened. Your sharing has helped us to ask the question, who is helping victims to heal their wounds, walking with them, accompanying them? The response was twofold: counselling and accompaniment.

Once again, we asked victims to help us. Even in your hurt and pain you have answered the call. Thanks to a recommendation from a victim, a trauma counsellor, trained in childhood sexual abuse, is available to work with all victims of clergy sexual abuse, with no charge to you and no need to report to the diocese. Again at the recommendation of a victim, we have begun a series of accompaniment workshops (the next is on April 11th) for people to learn how to walk with victims. The burden that each victim carries is heavy: it is time for others to help carry that burden that was so unfairly placed on you.

Finally, in January 2021, the Archdiocese took a bold step by creating a new position that is staffed by a victim, specifically to provide services and advocacy for victims as well as to work closely with my office and others to ensure we continue to move forward toward transparency and accountability. If you as a victim would have any questions, concerns or requests, or would like information about accompaniment workshops, prayer services or educational events, please feel free to contact Pamela Walsh at victimserviceadvocacy@gmail.com or the Delegate, Fr. Brad Fahlman, at enquiry@archregina.sk.ca.

Two years ago, a way of the cross was prepared that gave voice to the experience of victims who have been nailed to the cross by abuse, presenting in the first person the voice of the victim. This Good Friday permit me to share with you this brief excerpt:

I too, want to be taken down from the cross of my pain. I do not want to be kept fastened to the cross as the church continues its lies, deceit, and cover-up. I want to be free from the clutches of despair and the torment to stop. How can I be freed from this cross? I can’t do it alone. I need support. I need a church that cares, risks being honest with itself and is accountable. Although my trust has been shattered and all hope lost, I want to be able to grieve for the parts of me that died the day the abuse started. I also grieve for those victims who remain nailed to their cross.

We do not want you to be nailed to the cross, but rather, we want you among us so we can accompany you and walk together. As the darkness is upon us today, let the light of Easter bring transformation as Christ rises from the tomb and love and life prevail over hate and death. Through that light, let us recognize ever more deeply that victims are not to be blamed but to be listened to, and let all people of the Archdiocese open their hearts and minds to a new way of walking with you in hope.

Sincerely yours,

✠Donald J. Bolen Archbishop of Regina

Easter Message from the Anglican, Lutheran, and Catholic bishops serving the Regina area,

April 1, 2021

Blessings to all in Saskatchewan. While many people in our province are preparing to celebrate our second Easter weekend under pandemic restrictions, as the Anglican, Lutheran, and Catholic bishops serving the Regina area, we want to offer a word of blessing, a word of caution, and a word of hope.

Christ is the Word of blessing who speaks to the world his promise that life will triumph over death. The whole world is suffering from a virus that has killed millions, paralyzed our society, and left an invisible toll in the form of mental and physical health issues, domestic abuse, and isolation from our families and friends. To this world of suffering, Christ joins his own suffering. Sharing in our struggles, he transforms even death into redemption.

As we celebrate this holiest time in our year, we are drawn to family and friends, but we must remain cautious. Now is not the time to expand our social interactions. We call upon all people in the Regina region to stay within their household bubbles over the next weeks. Find electronic ways to stay connected with friends and family, join in virtual worship, work at home if possible, do not travel within the province or elsewhere, limit shopping to the essentials, use curbside pickup or delivery wherever possible, wear a mask, sanitize your hands frequently, and seriously consider getting the vaccine when that becomes possible for you.

Over the past year, we have worked hard with public health officials and other faith leaders to develop effective protocols for faith communities. We support these and other measures to stop the spread of the virus in our population. We support efforts to reduce general movement within society and to limit the occasions for transmission. In our homes, workplaces, and churches, please follow all public health orders and recommendations.

To this, we offer a word of sincere thanks and gratitude to leaders, health workers, carers, counsellors, emergency responders, aid agencies, restaurateurs, teachers, delivery and personnel drivers, farmers and cleaners. Your combined sacrifice is deeply appreciated. Thank you.

And, we offer a word of hope. In the mystery of Easter, Christ turns death into life. We do not know how God is working through our pandemic suffering, but our faith proclaims that God will find good amongst the pain and will take the ashes of our long Lenten journey and turn them into new life. Christ dies on Good Friday, but he rises again on the third day. This is the mystery of Easter, which we live as people of faith.

May you all enjoy the blessings of Easter and stay healthy.

Bishop Bryan Bayda
Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon

Archbishop Donald Bolen
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina

Bishop Robert Hardwick Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle

Bishop Sid Haugen
Saskatchewan Synod,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Opinion: Churches working to help in COVID-19 fight, but need common sense from government

Opinion: Churches working to help in COVID-19 fight, but need common sense from government

by Brett Salkeld, PhD, theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina.

It is difficult for religious communities to push common sense while following safety protocols that are anything but, writes Brett Salkeld.

To any person who goes to church Sunday morning these days after shopping Saturday afternoon, the dramatic difference between the safety protocols observed at the grocery store or pharmacy and those observed at the church is jarring. There have been times when I have gotten home from the store thinking, if I get COVID, I’m pretty sure that trip was where I got it.

The feeling I have at church is precisely the opposite. We are so meticulously safe, so masked, so distanced, so disinfected that it seems highly unlikely anyone could contract the virus from attending the service while we adhere to best practices.

When I go to church, large sections of my small local parish are roped off. With only 30 people allowed to attend, we are able to appropriately distance in a fraction of our building. My heart breaks to watch our pastor having to turn people away at the door due to some confusion about sign-ups and capacity while there are dozens of empty pews sitting unused.

Last spring, after leading with a hard-cap policy as regards the number of people permitted in places of worship, the Government of Saskatchewan met with faith leaders and subsequently adopted a very reasonable policy based on percentage of building capacity. Small country churches that rarely accommodate more than 30 people on a given Sunday are not the same thing as large city congregations whose buildings often hold more than 1,000. Having the same limit apply to both these scenarios made no sense, and the government was correct to adjust policy accordingly.

But in mid-December, the government reverted to its original policy without explanation or consultation. Since that time, faith leaders across the province have been pushing, unsuccessfully, for a return to a percentage of capacity policy, one commensurate with what businesses are currently allowed.

Many have remarked upon the value of religion for society, especially in times of crisis. When people are lonely or afraid or looking for answers, the wisdom and the community of our religious traditions can be a lifesaver. What has not been as widely noted is the role of most religions in protecting people from extremism, polarization and conspiracy theories.

On top of the viral pandemic, we are also facing a virtual pandemic, one consisting of online misinformation and moral panic. And this second pandemic is amplifying the death count of the first. It is a genuine threat to public health, to say nothing of political stability and our capacity to live together as communities.

In the face of what some have called an “infodemic,” a good chunk of our work at the Archdiocese of Regina these days is to direct our people to reliable sources, to encourage best practices with respect to public health — not only in our parishes, but in the wider world — and to reassure people of the basic wisdom of public health measures. This is largely a thankless task, one that earns us charges of failing in our duty to defend the Church against government, which is imagined to be using the pandemic as a pretext to strip believers of their rights and freedoms.

The best strategies for promoting public health have recognized the need to work with and not against religious communities. After all, we share the same goal of protecting our communities, especially the vulnerable, from disease and death. But the current policy of the Saskatchewan government puts religious authorities in a very awkward position.

Churches are required to enforce inconsistent protocols on behalf of the government that give those in our communities who are already suspicious of the government’s motives all the evidence they need to not trust public health measures — not to mention more motivation to pursue ever wilder and more conspiratorial claims on social media. The anxiety and distress this leads to is itself becoming a public health crisis, to say nothing of the fact that such people are often highly suspicious of any vaccination campaign to end the pandemic.

It is time for the government to recognize that, not only are the current restrictions on places of worship inconsistent, but that such inconsistency is itself a threat to public health. It is increasingly difficult for religious communities to encourage common sense while they are required to follow and enforce safety protocols that are anything but.

Brett Salkeld is the theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina.

Archbishop’s Message for the first week of Advent

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear friends,

Here we are, at the start of Advent, aware now that we are going to have to live through every liturgical season of 2020 with the restrictions and challenges of this pandemic. There is a lot of frustration in the air, with a new level of restrictions over the next 3 weeks. But also hope, with the prospect of a vaccine in the new year, and given early reports, the prospect of an ethically produced vaccine which doesn’t create a profound moral dilemma for Catholics. For this we pray.

Meanwhile, we are called to live the present moment as well as we are able; that is all that the Lord ever asks of us. A few days ago I received an insightful email from a priest friend who asked to remain anonymous, but who has given me permission to share his reflection. He wrote, “forgive me. I don’t like to say nice things about the COVID pandemic, but a thought came to me this morning: For the first time in my entire life, this Advent is really going to be Advent, a season of waiting, a season of waiting in hope and anticipation. We should probably do something, at least personally, to recognize the gift of this and remember it, because we will probably never see this again in our lifetimes. For the first time for as long as I can remember, Advent will not be ‘Christmas already’. It will not be a month of Christmas parties. It will not be a month of Christmas concerts. We won’t be able to skip over the season of waiting to jump right into Christmas celebrations on the 1st of December like we always do. We’ll have the opportunity, like never before, to actually live Advent as the gift it is, instead of glossing right over it because we just can’t wait.”

I resonated deeply with my friend’s insight. As with every year at the start of November, as we started hearing Christmas carols in stores, I think, beautiful carols, but do we need to start just yet? The pandemic and the anticipation for a vaccine has put us into a place of waiting, and the season of Advent invites us to ground our waiting in a much deeper promise, one that we can live by, one that gives us great resources for living with joy and hope while we wait.

This Advent, my little team with whom these messages are prepared thought it might be good to have an Advent message each week, centred on one of the wonderful Advent hymns in our rich tradition. It is good and right that new composers and musicians continue to produce new Advent songs for us, but let’s not lose sight of the magnificent hymns which have come to us from past generations of peoples of faith. So in each message this year, I will reflect with you on Advent in light of one of those hymns, starting with the English hymn “People Look East”.

St Paul writes that all creation is groaning in the one great act of giving birth, and Advent is a season where we listen for what is being born, what is coming. Each verse of People Look East taps into that longing. The earth is bare but already preparing for the rose. The birds are waiting and preparing: “Even the hour when wings are frozen, God for fledgling time has chosen.” The stars are keeping watch when night is dim, waiting for the coming of a great light: “shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as sun and moon together.”

And what are they waiting for? It is love that is on the way, as the end of each verse reminds us: love, the guest, is on the way; love the rose; love the bird; love the star; love, the Lord, is on the way. The first readings of our liturgies through Advent, all from the prophets, mostly from Isaiah, remind us that God is coming into our world. We are invited to live in the presence of that promise. The yearnings within us, the yearnings of all creation, were not made to go unfulfilled. We do not live and die for nothing. We were created for a purpose. God is coming, God is creating a future for us, creating a Kingdom through and with and sometimes despite us.

Finally, the hymn reminds us, like the Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent, that our lives are a space where we are to get ready for Incarnation, where we await the coming of God in the flesh by staying awake, by getting ready. “Make your house fair as you are able; trim the hearth and set the table…. Set every peak and valley humming, with the Word, the Lord is coming.”

Dear friends, let us allow this masterpiece of a hymn to call us to a place of deep hope, keenly attentive to the promises of God which surround us this season. If it is a season of darkness in our world and in our lives, let us not despair. God is in the midst of it, bringing something to birth. Of Advent, Karl Rahner writes: “What must live in you is a humble, calm joy of faithful expectancy, which does not imagine that tangibles of the present time are everything.” Brothers and sisters, let us drink deeply from the wellsprings of hope and promise which Advent proclaims.

Rich blessings!

Watch Video Message HERE

Regarding Changes to COVID Protocols Affecting Mass Attendance in Regina

From the Archdiocese of Regina:

As announced earlier this week, a new SHA health order has increased certain COVID-19 restrictions. Effective Friday, November 6, 2020, these restrictions include mandatory use of non-medical masks in all indoor public spaces in Regina, Saskatoon, and P.A. This includes at our celebration of the Mass and all other parish gatherings. All persons attending all parish events within the city of Regina are required to wear non-medical face masks from the time they enter the building until they have exited the building.

For communion, the people should leave their mask on when they come forward, receive communion in whichever way your parish has determined, step to the side, slip the mask up, down, or to the side, consume the host, replace the mask and continue back to the pew.

Changes to gathering sizes included in this health order do not affect the Mass, weddings, funerals, or other religious gatherings at public places of worship. These continue to fall under the protocols found within the Saskatchewan Re-open Plan.

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/re-open-saskatchewan-plan/guidelines/places-of-worship-guidelines

Regina Catholic School Board Trustees: Who’s Running

The Civic Election, including that of Catholic School  Trustees,  will take place on November 9th this year.  Because of the difficulties associated with face to face contact and personal conversations during campaigning, we are assisting the candidates through our electronic communications platforms.

This link provides profiles of all candidates.

You may also view video profiles of each candidate here.  

Please familiarize yourselves with the candidates and please be sure to Vote to elect the next Board of Trustees for our Regina Catholic Schools.

The Civic Election, including that of Catholic School Trustees, will take place on November 9th this year

The Civic Election, including that of Catholic School Trustees, will take place on November 9th this year. Because of the difficulties associated with face to face contact and personal conversations during campaigning, we will be assisting the candidates through our electronic communications platforms.

You will find profiles and photos of all the candidates for the position of Trustee posted on our Parish website beginning this week. Their materials will also be available on the websites of the Archdiocese, Regina Catholic Schools and the City of Regina.

Please familiarize yourselves with the candidates and please be sure to Vote to elect the next Board of Trustees for our Regina Catholic Schools.