Not so long ago, it seems that clergy sex offenders could abuse their victims with near impunity. Clergy were respected pillars of their community and their young charges could hardly imagine naming them as sexual offenders. Nor could parishioners conceive that their priests, choir directors or youth volunteers might take advantage of their positions in such a way.
Times have changed. Canadian churches, including the Anglican Church, have all had to face up to the painful reality that sexual misconduct has been, if not rampant within the church, certainly far from unheard of.
The most recent wakeup call came in a British Columbia Supreme Court judgment. It blasts the church for laxness in allowing a man unrestricted access to vulnerable and defenceless Native children.
That occurred in the early 1970s. As the century comes to a close, the church is "light years ahead" of where it was even at the beginning of this decade, says Mary Wells, a Toronto-based …