Children play on the shore of Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut, July 26, 2022. Oblate Father Joannès Rivoire, who was accused of sexually assaulting Nunavut teens died Thursday. CNS photo/Carlos Osorio, Reuters

Oblate Joannes Rivoire passes

  • April 12, 2024

Joannes Rivoire, the Oblate priest who was accused of sexually assaulting Nunavut children and teenagers, passed away on April 11 at the age of 93 in France, according to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The late Rivoire departed Canada to his native France on Jan. 16, 1993.

The Report of the Oblate Safeguarding Commission was published by OMI Lacombe Canada on March 19, 23 days before Rivoire’s death. The exhaustive investigation conducted by retired Superior Court of Quebec Justice André Denis concluded, based on the “preponderance of evidence,” that Rivoire was guilty of sexually assaulting five minors in Naujaat, Nunavut, between 1968 and 1970, and one in Arviat and Whale Cove, Nunavut, between 1974 and 1979.

Four plaintiffs visited the RCMP between Jan. 20 and Feb. 28, 1993, to sign a statement of accusation against Rivoire. A law enforcement investigation controversially took nearly six years to conduct before complaints were filed with the justice of the peace and an arrest warrant was issued on Dec. 29, 1998. The case against Rivoire legally dissolved in 2017 as it was clear that French authorities would never extradite him. A new criminal complaint was filed in 2021, but it was clear he would never face justice in a Canadian court of law.

In a statement provided to The Catholic Register Fr. Ken Thorson, provincial superior of OMI Lacombe, stated that the Oblates recognize that the news of Rivoire’s death “will be difficult for many to receive, especially for the survivors and their families who advocated for him to face justice in Canada.”

“We sincerely regret that despite all their efforts, Rivoire never made himself available and will never face the charges that were laid against him,” wrote Thorson. “We further regret that efforts for him to be formally removed as a priest were unsuccessful.”

Thorson again expressed gratitude to Denis for his report, which also confirmed that the Oblates were not involved whatsoever in orchestrating or concealing Rivoire’s exodus from Canadian soil. Rivoire had told his superiors that he needed to return home to tend to ailing parents. 

About Denis’ work, Thorson wrote “while nothing can reverse the harm and tragic legacy of clergy abuse, it is our hope that his findings provide some validation for those who were silenced and ignored countless times.” 

Thorson also issued an apology on behalf of his order: “We wish to apologize unequivocally to anyone who was harmed by Rivoire, and to offer our continued support in this next chapter of the healing process. Our prayers are with the Inuit community, and anyone who is still processing this news.”

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