The Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons

Home > The Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons

The mission of the Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons is to help eliminate the threat and trauma of sexual abuse in society and in the Church by:

  • Promoting prevention through formation
  • Offering healing assistance to victims/survivors, their families, and their communities
  • Striving for justice
  • Contributing to reconciliation.

The Centre is the first of its kind established in a Catholic university in North America.


The Centre is interdisciplinary, reflecting the excellent research and close collaboration of Saint Paul University’s four faculties: Human Sciences, Philosophy, Theology, and Canon Law.

Call to Action

We believe that the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable persons is an urgent need today. We encourage all those who share our passion to support the Centre to ensure a sustainable, successful initiative and positive impact for minors and vulnerable persons.


The Centre offers customized educational and practical services. Services include:

Auditing and Consultation Services

The Centre offers risk management assessment audits to enhance the safeguarding of both those who serve in, and are served by, religious institutions. It also offers canonical advisory services on all aspects of safeguarding protocols and practices.


The Centre facilitates interdisciplinary research on the systemic issues underlying the problem of sexual abuse in society and the Church. It focuses on themes such as secondary victims of abuse, vulnerable persons at risk in certain contexts (migrants and refugees, women religious, novices and seminarians), human trafficking, and incest.

Free Webinars


The Centre offers a minimum of four workshops a year. These day-long workshops are intended for a broad audience. Learn more here.


The Centre offers a minimum of two seminars each year. These week-long seminars are intended for professional development for students and the general public. Learn more here.

International Conferences

The Centre organised it’s first international conference “A Wounded Church” April 28 – May 1, 2021

Call for Papers – Vulnerability to Sexual, Emotional and Spiritual Abuse and the Catholic Church

Curious about our past events? You can find more information here.


Undergraduate Microprogram in Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons (15 credits) 

NEW! Graduate Microprogram in Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons (9 credits) 

See which courses will be offered in 2021-2022  

International Outreach

It intends to build and to expand worldwide partnerships to promote safeguarding. Its international focus hopes to assist developing countries where civil law and best practices may not be concurrent with contemporary values related to the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable persons.

In addition to serving the National Capital Region, the Centre has global reach through distance-learning opportunities and offers a vast variety of services in English and French.

Past Events

Wondering what we have been up to since the opening of the centre? You have come to the right place! Here is an overview of the events that have been held so far:

On February 12, we held our first workshop, given by Prof. Karlijn Demasure, director of the centre, on “Incest: What Can the Church Do?” The workshop explored the definition of incest and how it affects the victims of such acts, as well as the role the Church could play in these situations to help the victim. Although a difficult subject, the presentation helped the participants understand something that is often considered taboo in our societies.

Then, on March 6, Prof. Judith Malette gave a workshop on “Compassion and Self-Compassion: Two Essential Components in the Journey with Others“. Focusing on compassion fatigue and how to prevent it, Prof. Malette presented tools that participants could use later. This very informative and practical workshop focused on taking care of oneself to be able to care for others.

As some of you may be aware, we had a seminar with Prof. Mariéle Wulf scheduled from March 16 to 20 on “Trauma in the Context of Abuse“, which unfortunately had to be postponed. Although it was a difficult decision to make, the outbreak and subsequent worldwide spread of COVID-19 made us reconsider holding the seminar. With our community’s health in mind, we decided to hold it at a later date this year. Please stay tuned for more news about this event!

Regardless of the virus outbreak, we regrouped and decided to hold the next workshop online, thus respecting the physical distancing and quarantine measures taken by both the Ontario government and Saint Paul University.

We held our first online-only workshop on March 27, with Prof. Valère Nkouaya Mbandji speaking about “Pope Francis and the Sexual Abuse Crisis“. In exploring the pope’s response to the crisis through the understanding of the zero-tolerance policy put in place, participants gained a deeper understanding of the measures the Church has taken. Canon law reforms were also discussed; these reinforce the efforts the Church has made to face this crisis.

On April 17, we had the pleasure of hosting virtually Prof. Karlijn Demasure and Prof. John Renken for their workshop on “Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church“. The workshop discussed the Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis and the steps that have since been taken to address it. The subject of sexual abuse more generally was touched upon as well, to further the participants’ understanding of the problematic as a whole, with a focus on perpetrators within the Church. We had great attendance and participation, making this workshop all the better!

Shortly after, we welcomed back Prof. John Renken for a 4-day seminar on “Penal Law and Jurisprudence“. The participants had the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the penal law system in place, in relation to sexual abuse within the Church, guided by the expertise of our presenter. Case studies were used to demonstrate the use of the law and jurisprudence in dioceses and dicastries of the Holy See, painting a vivid picture of the justice system and process.

Last, but certainly not least, Prof. Valère Nkouaya Mbandji joined us again for a 3-day seminar on “Safeguarding and the Particular Churches“. The focus of this seminar was to demystify the protocols for safeguarding put in place for churches around the world. By examining the responses, we are able to determine where work needs to be done.

Our events for 2019–2020 are now done; keep an eye out for our upcoming schedule of events for 2020–2021!

You can find more information on our upcoming events here.

About the Director

The University has appointed Dr. Karlijn Demasure as the director of the Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons. Her expertise in the field is internationally recognized. She is a member of many panels and consultative committees on sexual abuse, including a safeguarding board of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).


For more information, please contact us at 613-236-1393, ext. 2612, or by email at