Volume 12 Week 5

Monday, May 30


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Addressing the elephant
in the Catholic church

As someone who recently returned to the Catholic fold, I read with disgust, outrage and even embarrassment last week’s three part series by Ottawa Citizen investigative journalist Andrew Duffy on the lawsuit the Archdiocese of Ottawa has filed against L’Assurance Mutuelle de l’Inter-Ouest which underwrote hundreds of dollars in out of court settlements to sexual abuse victims of local priests.

Apparently, the Archdiocese wants to be reimbursed for the court costs it incurred as a result of a number of cases dating back over 40 years.

The Archdiocese probably didn’t imagine that the suit would reopen a can of worms it’s been trying to keep closed for more than four decades. According to the series, there have been at least 41 acknowledged victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Ottawa diocese dating back to the early 1980s.

Eleven priests who worked in the diocese have been connected to sexual abuse, according to the Citizen, but yet only five priests have been convicted for their crimes; three others were convicted in jurisdictions outside of Ottawa while still members of the Archdiocese; and another case is currently before the courts.

And this is just in Ottawa. There have been countless other cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests throughout North America, most notably in Boston.

According to figures made public by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church – or to be more accurate it’s insurers – have paid out an estimated $3 billion in clergy sex abuse settlements for cases dating back to the 1950s.

As a Catholic, I feel it’s important for me and others to say enough is enough.

The Church, and by “Church” I mean the Pope, needs to face its ugly past and conduct a thorough, open and transparent self-examination of past sexual transgressions by priests, alive or dead.

There should be no statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of children. Period. Just as there is no statute of limitations on Nazi prison guards who were complicit in the extermination of millions of Jews, so should there be no statute of limitations on priests who took advantage of kids in the early teens and preteens.

Unfortunately, the Church, my Church, has chose to bury the past transgressions of priests by shuffling them from diocese to diocese and paying off their victims – more than $1 million in Ottawa alone, according to Mr. Duffy’s report.

The only way for the Church to be renewed is for the truth to be uncovered and laid bare.

Any priest guilty of sexual abuse should be kicked out of the Church, or even excommunicated, along with any Bishops or Archbishops who were involved in covering it up.

As for me, I plan to remain a Catholic because I do not blame the Church for the transgressions of its individual members or leaders, anymore than would blame

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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