45 Complaints of Abuse and Behavior Filed Against the Archdiocese of Montreal

A report by the independent ombudsman hired by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal to investigate allegations of abuse and other inappropriate conduct says 45 complaints have been filed against the church since she began her term in May.

In a report released Thursday, Marie Christine Kirouack said 26 of the allegations are related to abuse, including 22 of a sexual nature. Another 13 refer to problems between employees and members of the clergy, while six involve various problems, such as the maintenance of cemeteries.

Kirouack said the complaints relate to events that took place from the 1950s to the present day, with most occurring before the mid-1970s.

He said that the age of the alleged victims at the time of the events ranged from elementary school to over 80 years, but what they have in common is that they have all suffered the consequences of the abuse.

“In some cases, they have taken refuge in addiction, in others low self-esteem has led them to have abusive partners. Others have experienced great moments of depression or anxiety,” he wrote.

All of them, he added, “were left with images in their minds that they would like to get rid of, whether they have been denigrated, beaten or sexually abused.”

Kirouack was appointed in May following the release of a report last November on how church officials mishandled the case of a convicted pedophile priest.

Their report notes that most complaints date from the 1950s to the early 1970s, when clergy-run schools provided a “closed environment” that favored “quasi-institutional abuse” of victims who could not easily escape. and that they were often not believed.

“It was very difficult for these children to avoid their abuser and any attempt on their part to defend themselves cost them dearly in further abuse: abuse of authority, abuse at the school level, physical and sexual abuse,” he wrote.

“The abuses of that time were marked by impunity for members of the clergy who then enjoyed the benefits of the Catholic Church and enjoyed its aura, which no one would dare to criticize.”

The report classifies complaints by decade, age of the victim, and nature of the complaint, but does not mention specific institutions or incidents. She wrote that seven of the abuse allegations have been forwarded to an outside firm for investigation, while in eight files letters have been sent to religious orders requesting more information.

45 complaints filed against the Archdiocese of Montreal, says the independent ombudsman. # Sexual abuse

Kirouack said the alleged abuse experienced by the victims could be financial, physical or psychological, but most were sexual. Some victims reported being abused for more than a decade, while an alleged assault was so serious that the victim required surgery, he said.

He said some victims, including a man in his 70s, were describing their abuse for the first time.

In many cases from the early decades, he said victims received little support from their families when they spoke about their experiences.

“I was puzzled and dismayed by the number of men who were not only not believed when they told their family members about the abuse, but were also sometimes beaten by their parents for saying such things,” she wrote.

His report says he expects the number of formal complaints against the church to increase, and he encouraged other victims to come forward to help stop all forms of abuse “once and for all.”

Kirouack said she also received a number of complaints that were outside her mandate, including nine people who contacted her about atrocities committed against indigenous people in residential schools and six requests from people wanting to apostatize or formally leave the church.

The role of an independent ombudsman was a key recommendation in last November’s report from former Superior Court Judge Pepita G. Capriolo, who was hired by the archdiocese to investigate how she handled the case of former priest Brian Boucher, sentenced to eight years in prison. in 2019 for sexually assaulting two minors.

Capriolo concluded that the church had a culture of secrecy, lacked responsibility, and was more interested in protecting the reputation of the convicted priest than in addressing sexual abuse.

Appointing Kirouack to the post in May, Archbishop Christian Lepine said the church is committed to breaking the cycle of silence and ensuring that complaints of abuse and inappropriate behavior go undetected.

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 9, 2021.


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