*Please note that the views expressed below are not wholly reflective of People of PEC, they are the views and words of the writer. Edited for length and clarity.
I am writing to you as a result of some damaged relationships in Prince Edward County due to actions and words shared by one of your employees, Father Robert Chisholm
Given the exposure on various media regarding this issue I need to share my thoughts on what Father Chisholm’s behaviour has done and can do to a community such as ours.
I will relate my thoughts using my past work experience which will help put this into perspective for you. Much of my previous career was as a senior leader in the area of human resources within several large organizations. I had the responsibility of ensuring that our policies and practices of both employees and leadership aligned in a manner that was respectful and appropriate. In so doing our aim was to encourage the attraction and retention of quality talent to make us a leading edge organization from the perspective of diversity, inclusion and being a safe, welcoming environment. This had many facets as I hope you can appreciate. As senior leader one facet was to make sure that everyone “demonstrated by example” when it came to creating and enhancing a respectful workplace. In particular leaders who were in positions of influence over staff needed to ensure that they demonstrated appropriate behaviour at all times. Simple human, respectful, thoughtful, engaging, inclusive, welcoming, safe behaviour that made for a healthy work environment.
Since last Thursday’s incident, when Father Chisholm decided to publish his statements in the church bulletin about the participation of Christians’ and the “harm” for children because of Pride Week in Prince Edward County, the situation has blown to a proportion that is now likely making it challenging for both him and the Church to look good in this situation. This has created sweeping controversy among the LGBTQ, the staff and students of St. Gregory’s, the community at large and the municipality.
Comments and behaviours such as the one’s expressed by Rev. Robert Chisholm are dated and do not reflect this community’s diverse population base. It is obvious that Robert Chisholm is living somewhere in another era, and that his values might not be aligned with the community he is supposed to be serving. His attitude does not seem to reflect the values of the greater Catholic church since the Vatican has changed its stance recently on this very issue.
That being said it is my strong opinion both personally as a gay person living in this community and as a business professional, there can be no tolerance for behaviour that is not respectful of all people. (and I cannot stress that enough) This means that all of our community leaders demonstrate the utmost respect for each other regardless of religious or societal differences. In my line of work, those who didn’t were often shown the door.
Organizations cannot have individuals within their businesses that create divisive issues. It tends to spread like a cancer. In most cases those issues lead to hate, lack of understanding, anger and intolerance. Leaders/influencers in all organizations have a responsibility to be educated on what is considered right for an inclusive and comfortable environment, and then educate others .
It is my opinion that you are now accountable over someone who has exerted influence over our community. His actions have not been reflective of either the community, the Church’s teachings, or aligned with modern society. He has created tension and hurt and displayed little remorse. As his leader you have an obligation to manage this situation more appropriately and in a way that sends the right message to our community.
It is my assertion that influencers such as Rev. Robert Chisholm are dangerous to have within our community. Although you have apparently had some conversation with him about his statements, Rev. Robert Chisholm is not going to change. In my experience people like him never do. I have seen this far too many times to know that these fundamental values that he has publicly expressed are well imbedded in him. Your response on his behalf simply supports that he was not willing to come forward to express his apology to the community and used you to intervene instead.
His way of thinking is a cancer. Sadly not often curable.
I am asking you to contain this cancer. I am asking you to remove this influencer from our community. Public sentiment among leaders, residents and children is outrage. Few are siding with this man. They are disappointed with his statements and his actions thereafter. In my experience tigers rarely change their stripes. If this minister is unwilling to show remorse or make restitution to the community would another leader perhaps be more suited? We don’t want to see this incident repeated.
As a Catholic I do recall that all of the teachings were about being kind, generous,
tolerant, helpful, and loving of everyone. If it wasn’t the church that taught me this
it certainly was from my devout Catholic parents. I cannot imagine that this has changed much within the church. What I and this community have seen is someone who is not exemplifying any of these behaviours.
So in my opinion I am recommending that Rev. Robert Chisholm be removed from his current role and transferred somewhere else within your diocese. It is obvious to me that he is not happy here with how things have evolved in our culture. It is obvious that the leader the community wants is someone from the Church who can encourage both adults and children. Someone who exemplifies that a community is about being welcoming, kind, supportive, tolerant and generous toward one another.
Again none of which we have seen in this person.
Although this might be a tough decision for you to make as a leader, I think you can appreciate this issue and his behaviour are not going away– they aren’t going to change– and this community now has likely a level of distrust in his ministry. If I had to give you advice “you don’t have your best player in the game, it’s time to move them out to make sure you get the results you need to get”. And although I may be using an analogy this applies especially to a role where his primary service is to the ministry of people.
I trust you will take my recommendations under advisement.
I will also advise you that I am going to be sharing this letter publicly within the
community and to the press…