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Jesuits will name ‘credibly accused’

  • December 21, 2019

OTTAWA -- Canada’s Jesuits are planning to do what no other Catholic religious order in the country has done — release the names of priests “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of minors.

Fr. Erik Oland, provincial of the Jesuits of Canada based in Montreal, said the Jesuits have hired an outside firm to investigate and review historic files going back up to 60 years. The files contain allegations against priests whose cases are already public through criminal trials and civil suits, plus other priests who have never been publicly named, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Dec. 17.

“We’re really making a decision to be pro-active,” Oland was quoted in the Globe and Mail. “We’re not waiting to be forced out from under cover. … The Jesuit order, the Catholic Church … people with religious convictions are doing important work for our world, so we don’t want to keep carrying this yoke.”

Jesuits Canada director of communications Jose Sanchez confirmed to Canadian Catholic News that Oland spoke to the Globe in Toronto recently about the Canadian Jesuits’ planned review of past abuse cases.

Oland said “a list of names and where the priests worked will be made public by January 2021, or before.”

The push for transparency has gained traction amid worldwide revelations of abuse. What the Jesuits are planning in Canada follows what the Jesuits have done in the United States, where a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report concluded that priests abused more than 1,000 children over past decades.

On Nov. 22, the Archdiocese of Vancouver released a groundbreaking report that identified 26 cases of sexual abuse of minors since 1950. The report named nine priests whose cases were already public. It did not name “credibly accused” priests, although the committee within the diocese that wrote the report recommended that the “credibly accused” be named as well.

Pending the clearance of various legal and privacy issue, the archdiocese said it hopes to release the names of several of those priests whose abuse cases are known internally but not yet public.

The  Archdiocese of Montreal and four other Quebec dioceses are undergoing similar audits of their archives. 

An abuse survivor group recently released its own list of the “credibly accused” within the Diocese of London, Ont. For the most part, the diocese confirmed the accuracy of the list.

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