February 17, 2014

Volunteers in parishes across the diocese have been asked to sign a "Covenant of Care" agreement with the Edmonton Archdiocese. It is part of a broader plan named Called to Protect the archdiocese purchased through the corporation Praesidium.

The plan aims to minimize risk to vulnerable ages and volunteers, and meet the requirements of liability insurance within the diocese. The covenant agreement is a legally binding document and as such is potentially enforceable.

The problem is that it was not identified as a legal document when it was handed to volunteers. There was no advice given that legal counsel should be consulted before entering into any legal agreement.

This is particularly important for volunteers to understand as many of the words in the document are not clearly defined and open to interpretation. There was also no caution put forth that volunteers below legal age could not sign it.

This information would be in good keeping with Christian ethics and offer a more transparent approach to the thousands of invaluable volunteers across the archdiocese.

D.R. McArthur
St. Albert