Whenever one reads about sexual abuse perpetrated against a child, one cannot help but feel a flood of emotions, including deep sadness, disgust, and intense anger. As a practicing Catholic priest and a psychologist, those emotions for me include a sense of shame, when it becomes clear that the abuse was perpetrated by a priest, or another member of the clergy. Reports of sexual abuse of minors need to be approached with courage, transparency, and a sense of accountability. The pain and the anguish of those who survived sexual abuse is very real, and as a human family, we must hear them, acknowledge their pain, stand with them, and accompany them in their pain as they seek healing and justice. While I cannot comment on professional practices or Church practices in the past, I can affirm the priorities of today for preventative, clear and effective action that is required to ensure minors are protected now and into the future.
At The Southdown Institute, we operate as Regulated Health Professionals, under the laws of the Province of Ontario, and fully comply with all regulations regarding confidentiality and limits to confidentiality, including all mandatory reporting laws. as the current President and Chief Psychologist of Southdown, I want to express with clarity that we regard physical, emotional, sexual, and/or financial abuse of a child, and/or an elder, and/or a member of a vulnerable population to be crimes that require mandatory reporting. The laws that govern our work are the same laws that govern the work of all licensed, regulated mental health providers. Specifically, this means that we are obligated to report the sexual abuse of children to the Children’s Aid Society or other appropriate authorities.
As an independent, accredited healthcare organization that specializes in providing psychological services for the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of clergy, vowed religious and lay pastoral ministers, Southdown is dedicated to healing and health. Our Vision Statement “Healthy Ministers for a Healthy Church” articulates our commitment to the health of the population we serve by providing restorative and preventative services. Our clinical team works towards strengthening ministerial and professional boundaries, safeguarding the vulnerable, and development of healthy sexuality and emotional maturity in clergy and religious. Guided by our core values, we strive to achieve our Mission through ongoing professional development and evaluation of our existing services in alignment with best practices, resulting in continuous improvements.
Our entire Southdown team, including our Boards of Directors, reflects a diversity of culture, faith, and tradition. Our organizational structure is based on principles of teamwork, mutuality, and shared responsibility, all in the service of our Mission. Together, we are steadfast in our commitment to being active participants in the work towards healing and change.
Rev. Stephan Kappler, PsyD, C.Psych.