Thursday's report from a German law firm on sexual abuse in the Munich archdiocese accused now-retired Pope Benedict XVI of mishandling four sexual abuse cases in the 1970s and '80s while he was an archbishop.
Benedict cooperated with the investigation by Westpfahl Spilker Wastl and denied any wrongdoing.
It's nothing new for allegations of sexual abuse to be brought against members of the clergy, though members of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Regina say they're taking positive strides to improve the culture of churches within southern Saskatchewan.
"Clearly today we're taking steps and encouraging the clergy to take steps towards accountability," said Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen. "So much about the clergy sexual abuse, and sexual abuse in general, has to do with misuse of authority, the misuse of power. So we're doing a fair bit of work around the exercise of authority."
The archdiocese revised its policy on responding to concerns of clergy sexual abuse, and had victim input in drafting the new policy.
Pamela Walsh was a victim of clergy sexual abuse, and met Bolen after coming forward. They've been working through her healing since.
Walsh was one of the victims to have a say in how the new policy was created, and is now helping other victims who have come forward.
Their website now has a prominent link that people can use to confidentially report clergy abuse.
Bolen, who is from Gravelbourg and served as an associate pastor in Estevan from 1991 to 1993, said they don't have many people coming forward, but there are a few.
"Often victims come forward 30, 40, 50 years after they've been abused."
He said Walsh has really improved how approachable the Church is for people who were subject to abuse.
"Pam has helped us to move as a diocese from a model that I think was defensive and was very difficult for anybody coming forward reporting sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, to a place where we try to welcome any victim - to support them, to accompany them, and to make the process as least painful as possible. Often the process of coming forward for a victim of clergy sexual abuse is also retraumatizing."
The archdiocese met with each of its deaneries - concluding with St. John the Baptist in Estevan Thursday evening over a Zoom session - to give presentations on how clergy sexual abuse impacts victims.
"Some of the initiatives that we've been doing, they help them at a local level," said Walsh. "Prayer services. Don has written several letters to victims. The position of victim services and advocacy that they can contact. It's a difficult topic for everybody, but people are being receptive to it, and open to it. And because this is such a different way of doing things, rather than the closed we-don't-want-to-talk-about-this model, it's opening things up, and it's not an easy process."
Bolen said the conversations with various deaneries are quite frank in nature.
"It's such a difficult topic. Sometimes people, when they hear our presentations, are like deer in headlights because we're talking very openly about something that is very painful."
The archdiocese also hired a counsellor people can utilize for free, which Walsh said has been a big positive.
A case-by-case approach is taken when people come forward.
"That is a hard process to go through," said Walsh. "Sometimes it's just about wanting to know that somebody else knows they're a victim. And for some people, that's enough, because they don't want to go through the formal process, or the court process."
Saskatchewan has a mandatory 'duty to report' clause that requires anyone with "reasonable suspicion" of impact to a child's physical or mental health or welfare by abuse or neglect to report it to a local Ministry of Social Services Child Protection Office, First Nations Child and Family Services Agency or police.
"Adults who were abused as children may want to preserve their privacy and may hesitate to report sexual abuse by clergy or religious if the Archdiocese was obliged to disclose it to other authorities," states the policy. "The Archdiocese will respect their request for privacy, will inform any reporting person of their right to report the complaint to civil or criminal authorities, and will respect their decision to do so."
Both Walsh and Bolen encourage anyone who was subject to clergy abuse to come forward.
"It takes courage, but we want you to know that you will not be judged, you will not be shamed," said Bolen. "You will be welcomed, heard, listened to, and accompanied in this process."
"And that they're not alone," added Walsh. "I'm here, and I'm willing to support anyone. And I understand their pain, and the torment that they're feeling in coming forward. They don't have to feel the disgrace in coming forward. And they're not hurting anybody - they're not hurting the Church by coming forward - they're actually helping. And ultimately that their wellbeing is what is at the forefront."