“The Gang of Five”

Brief bios and picture of each of the five influential Canadian Roman Catholic bishops who referred to themselves as “the Gang of Five”:  Archbishops Francis Pocock, Emmett and Alexander Carter, George Flahiff csb and Joseph-Aurele Plourde.  All but Joseph-Aurele Plourde attained the office of Cardinal.  

Here then, in no particular order, are the five.  Scroll down for further information in  “Connecting the influential Episcopal dots in and out of Cornwall”


Philip Francis Pocock (1906- 1984)


Born 02 July 1906, St. Thomas, Ontario (Diocese of London, Ontario)Attended St. Peter’s Seminary, London. Ordained 14 June 1930.

1933: to Rome for graduate studies. Obtained a doctorate in Canon Law. Upon his return to the London diocese he taught Moral Theology and Canon Law at St. Peter’s Seminary until 1944.

On 29 June 1944 he was consecrated Bishop (age 38). He was installed as Bishop of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 19 July 1944. Seven years later he was named Apostolic Administrator of Winnipeg, Manitoba. On 14 January 1952 he was installed as Archbishop of Winnipeg after spending several months as Coadjutor Archbishop. During his years in Winnipeg he was elected Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop 1954-1956 and President 1956-1958.

On 18 February 1961, due to Cardinal McGuigan’s poor health, he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto. Ten years later, on 30 March 1971, following Cardinal McGuigan’s resignation, he was installed as Archbishop of Toronto.

29 April 1978: resigned. He took up residence at St. Mary’s, Brampton where he continued to administer the Sacraments until his death 06 September 1984.

Following Pocock’s death “The Gang of Five” dissolved.

Gerald Emmett Carter (1912-2003)

Emmett Carter

Born 01 March 1912 in Montreal, Quebec (Archdiocese of Montreal). His schooling was obtained at St. Patrick’s School and Montreal College, both of which were run by the Sulpiciens (priest of the Society of St. Sulpice, pss)Carter attended the Grand Seminary of Montreal, also run by the Sulpiciens, and was ordained on 22 May 22 1937.

He was Founder and Principal of St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College in Montreal, charter member and first President of the Thomas More Institute in Montreal (1945), English Commissioner of the Montreal Catholic School Commission (1948-1961), Rector of St. Lawrence College Quebec (1961), Chaplain Newman Club at McGill University (1941-1956), served three terms as National Chaplain to the Canadian Federation of Newman Clubs, and was Conventual Chaplain Knights of Malta (1960).

On 02 February 1962 he was consecrated Bishop and served as Auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal Archbishop Paul Emile Leger pss in Montreal.

Bishop Carter was installed as Bishop of London on February 22, 1964.

During and following the Second Vatican Council worked closely with Consilium and Archbishop Annibale Bugnini in implementing Bugnini’s vision of the Council and version of the new Novus Ordo Mass.

Carter was Vice-President of the Ontario Catholic Conference of Bishops from 1971-1973, Vice President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) from 1973-75 and CCCB President from 1975-1977.

He was appointed and installed as Archbishop of Toronto on April 29, 1978. One year later on June 30 he was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Carter founded Toronto’s Covenant House (for street youth under 21). In 1982 he received the Order of Canada. He officially retired from his duties as Archbishop of Toronto in 1990.

He died 06 April 2003.

Alexander Carter (1909-2002)

Alexander Carter

Brother of Emmett. He also received a Sulpicien education S. Patrick’s School and Montreal College both of which were run by the Sulpiciens (order of priests of the Society of Saint Sulpice, pss)

He attended the Sulpicien-run Grand Seminary in Montreal and was ordained 06 June 1936. One year later was sent to Rome for two years to study Canon Law at Appolinaris Law School. While in Rome he stayed at Canadian College, a Sulpicien-run residence.

Between 1946 and 1947 Carter was dispatched to the Archdiocese of Winnipeg to help iron out problems arising from then Archbishop Sinnott’s reluctance to relinquish authority to a Coadjutor Archbishop.

He taught Apologetics at Montreal College to English-speaking students, many of whom were Americans.

On 02 February 1957, at age 49, he was consecrated Bishop to serve as Coadjutor Bishop to Bishop R. H. Dignan, Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. He was installed as Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie on 22 November 1958. After becoming Bishop of Sault Ste Marie he appointed Fathers Adolphe Proulx and Bernard Pappin as Chancellors, sent Proulx to Archdiocese of Montreal to learn the ropes, Pappin to the Diocese of London. The following year he sent Proulx to Rome to study Canon Law.

In 1964 he petitioned Rome for an Auxiliary Bishop to ease his workload. In his memoirs wrote that he had Proulx in mind for the role – he had decided that Proulx was the kind of man he wanted as a French-speaking Auxiliary and “I saw his great devotion to the Church and his goodness.” (Proulx was consecrated Bishop February 1965 and served as Auxiliary to Carter until June 1967 when, much to Carter’s dismay he was installed as Bishop of Alexandria [Alexandria-Cornwall])

He was Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1965-1967, and President from 1967-1969. From 1977-1981 he was President of the Ontario Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Carter was a close friend of Laurent Morin with whom he attended seminary, studied in Rome and travelled Europe. Morin was later consecrated as Bishop, first serving as Auxiliary Bishop in Montreal and later installed as Bishop of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

On May 1985 Bishop Alex Carter resigned. He received the Order of Canada in 1989. He died 17 February 2002.

George Bernard Flahiff CSB (1905 – 1989)


Born 26 October 1905 in Paris, Ontario (Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario which is sandwiched between the Diocese of London and the Archdiocese of Toronto).  He undertook post secondary studies at St. Jerome’s, Kitchener (1920-1921) and in 1926 earned a B.A. at St. Michael’s College Toronto where one of his professors and tutor in History was Lester B. Pearson, the future Prime Minister of Canada (1963-1968). Flahiff then joined the Congregation of St. Basil novitiate. He attended St. Basil’s Seminary, Toronto and was ordained 17 August 1930.

Between 1930-1931 he studied canon Law and History at the University of Strasbourg, France, and in 1935 was awarded a diploma in archiviste-paléographe from École de Chartes in Paris, France.

Once his studies were completed he returned to Toronto where he spent nearly twenty years (1935 – 1954) as Professor of Medieval history at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies at the Basilian-founded and -operated University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. For most of those years he was also a faculty member with the Department of History, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto.

He was elected Superior General of his order (the Basilians) on 06 July 1954 and served in that capacity for six years. He was also elected President of the Canadian Religious Conference (1959-1961).

On 31 May 1960 he was consecrated bishop and installed as Archbishop of Winnipeg Manitoba. It is said that due to his other duties and busy schedule lecturing, giving seminars and such he was frequently absent from his diocese.

Between 1961-1963 he was Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and President from 1963-1965.

He became Cardinal Archbishop of Winnipeg on 28 April 1969 when he was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals. In 1974 he was awarded the Order of Canada.

Cardinal Flahiff resigned his duties as Archbishop of Winnipeg in 1982. He returned to Toronto to the Basilians and died 22 August 1989. He was buried in Winnipeg.

Joseph-Aurèle Plourde (1915 -2013 )

Plourde1 with text

Born 12 January 1915 in Saint François de Madawaska, New Brunswick (Diocese of Edmunston), he was educated at Bathurst College (Bathurst, N.B.), Bourget College of Rigaud Quebec (run by the Viatorians – Clerics of St. Viator, cssv) and St. Joseph’s College, Bathurst. He studied Social Sciences at “L’Insititut Catholique de Paris” and obtained his licentiate in Ottawa University.Plourde attended the Halifax Nova Scotia Major Seminary and was ordained 07 May 1944. From 1959 to 1960 attended Gregorian University to study spirituality. He was Professor of Philosophy and Social Sciences at St. Louis College (Edmunston, N.B.) and gained repute as a retreat master.

On 26 August 1964 he was consecrated Bishop and became Auxiliary Bishop to Rosario Brodeur in the Diocese of Alexandria (Alexandria-Cornwall). When Bishop Brodeur resigned (October 1966 at age 77) Plourde was named Apostolic Administrator of the diocese until the new Bishop of Alexandria (Adolphe Proulx) was named.

Four months later, on 22 February 1967, Plourde was installed as Archbishop Ottawa. He arrived in Ottawa two months before Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a Roman Catholic, was appointed Minister of Justice by Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Within a year Trudeau introduced his now infamous Ominibus Bill decriminalizing buggery and abortion and Trudeaumania was sweeping the nation. (Trudeau regularly attended Mass at Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Ottawa)

Between 1967-1969 Plourde was Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and President from 1969-1971.

In 1989 he both received the Order of Canada and retired. He continues to reside in Ottawa.


Connecting the influential Episcopal dots

in and out of Cornwall

Bishops Philip Pocock, George Flahiff, Joseph Aurele Plourde and the Carter brothers (Alexander and Emmett) became fast friends who dubbed themselves and became known as the “The Gang of Five..” The five wielded an inordinate influence upon their fellow Canadian bishops and hence upon the face of Roman Catholicism in Canada and indeed upon the face of the nation period. Some sources occasionally describe one or the other of the gang as “conservative” but in truth back in the 60s in an age when conservative was the norm and long before the phrase “politically-correct” or word “homophobe” was coined, to a bishop each was liberal in his outlook and all five were ‘on the cutting edge’ as advocates for change both within the Church and in society. In moral issues where they did not overtly advocate for change they covertly tolerated and/or condoned with silence.

What does the Gang have to do with to Cornwall?

Aside from recognizing the potential for significant involvement on the part of each of the five, that’s hard to say. As a Roman Catholic familiar with the Church in Canada to a small degree it is impossible to become immersed in the Cornwall scandal and not notice that certain names keep popping up, all the more so when Justice Normand Glaude, the commissioner for the Cornwall Public Inquiry, is from Sudbury with family roots and family members in Cornwall, and Paul Andre Durocher, the current bishop who represents the diocese at the inquiry, was born in the Diocese of London, ordained for the Diocese of Timmins and spent five years in Sudbury as Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie prior to his installation in Alexandria-Cornwall.

That said, it is a given that Archbishop Plourde may have had more direct connections than others, but it is also a given that the extent of the direct involvement of each of the five is an unknown while simultaneously recognizing the abundant opportunities for involvement given that the Gang was close, met regularly as a group, visited apart from the group meetings, communicated frequently, and certainly discussed their problems and helped each other out when the need arose.

As for indirect involvement I believe those familiar with the actions and non-actions of each of the five during the turbulent years preceding, during and following the Second Vatican Council would agree that each of the gang left his mark on the diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall and that in truth every male victim of same-sex sexual abuse in Canada can thank the Gang of Five when his rights are trumped by those of his molester, or he finds himself arguing that he truly was under fourteen when he was molested, or is reduced to trying to convince the court the acts of sodomy and/or gross indecency perpetrated upon him were not consensual, or when he finds that evidence of a Roman Catholic priest’s homosexual relationships are dismissed as irrelevant or homophobic.

That said, here is first a brief overview of the connections – both real and perceived – of the Gang of Five to Cornwall followed by a brief overview of why male victims of same-sex sexual abuse can thank the Gang of Five for their legal predicaments.

The connections

1) Joseph Aurele Plourde was Auxiliary Bishop of Cornwall from 1964-1966. Prior to his ordination he studied at Bourget College, Rigaud, Quebec which is a hop skip and jump from parishes in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall. The College is operated by the Viatorian (Clerics of St. Viator) who opened and operated the Cornwall Classical College in the Diocese of Alexandria (now Alexandria-Cornwall) in 1949.

Following his installation as Archbishop of Ottawa in January 1967 Plourde was a mere hour’s drive from Cornwall and not much more from Rigaud.

Strangely, despite the two years Plourde had spent in the Diocese of Alexandria as Auxiliary Bishop to Rosario Brodeur he was not chosen to replace the Bishop, instead Adolphe Proulx arrived from Sudbury and Plourde moved on and up to the prestigious Archdiocese of Ottawa, his palace a stone’s throw from parliament hill.

2) Emmett and Alexander Carter were born, raised, ordained and spent years in the Archdiocese of Montreal, a short drive East of Cornwall.

3) When he was installed as Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie (1957) Alexander Carter immediately ‘mentored’ Adolphe Proulx, the future Bishop of Alexandria.

4) Adolphe Proulx was born and raised close to Sudbury. As one of twelve children he had/has a lot of relatives in the area.

5) As Auxiliary Bishop of Sault Ste. (1965-1967) Adolphe Proulx was based in Sudbury, Ontario. For that period his Church was Ste. Anne’s, the same church in which Justice Glaude’s father, born and bred in St. Raphael’s (Diocese of Alexandria), was married in 1948.

6) Justice Normand Glaude, a Roman Catholic, was born (November 1954) and raised in Sudbury (Diocese of Sault Ste.Marie). From age three his bishop was Alexander Carter. IF his parents raised the family Catholic he and his brothers and sisters would probably have been confirmed by Bishop Alexander Carter, but possibly by Bishop Proulx while Proulx was in Sudbury as Auxiliary Bishop. The interaction and level of friendship between Justice Glaude parents, brothers and sisters, Justice Glaude himself, Justice Glaude’s wife and children and Bishops Alexander Carter and Adolphe Proulx is unknown.

7) In 1974 Emmett Carter, then Bishop of London, consecrated Eugene Larocque bishop. One of the co-consecrators was Philip Pocock (then Archbishop of Toronto) . The homily was given in French by Adolphe Proulx (then the new Bishop of Hull who was leaving the Diocese of Alexandria) and in English by Bishop James Mahoney (Diocese of Saskatoon). After his consecration Larocque replaced Proulx as Bishop of Alexandria

8) Emmett Carter was a good friend of former Ontario Premier William Davis (Progressive Conservative). According to Garry Guzzo the cover-up in Cornwall reaches back to the Bill Davis days.

9) George Flahiff was a friend of former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. It was during the Pearson government (1967) that Pearson’s Minister of Justice, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, first attempted to legalise homosexuality by decriminalising buggery.

It all raises lots of questions. A decent mandate and a truly independent out-of-province judge for the Cornwall Public Inquiry might give answers to what has been going on in Cornwall for the past 60 years and who might have been aiding and abetting a cover-up.

Unless things change radically we may never know.

But, back to the Gang of Five.

The legal/political dimension

It was under the watch of the Gang of Five that Pierre Elliott Trudeau steam-rolled his controversial Omnibus Bill through Parliament in 1969. Most Canadians are aware to some degree that the bill liberalized the divorce laws of the nation and essentially legalised contraception and abortion, the latter well documented and still being fought. But how many know that Trudeau’s bill decriminalised buggery (sodomy and bestiality) and legalised homosexual activity?

Prior to 1969 buggery was illegal, period – with or without consent and at all ages. But with Trudeau’s claim that “the State does not belong in the bedrooms of the nation” buggery was decriminalized, homosexual activity performed in private between two “consenting adults” – age 21 and over – was legalised and the wheels were set in motion to methodically legislate that (1) not only are homosexual acts between consenting adults legal, but it is legal for thirty-, forty-, fifty-, and sixty-year-old men to sodomize and/or fondle and/or engage in oral sex with fourteen-year-old boys if the acts are deemed “consensual,” (2) homosexuals have special protections and rights under the Charter (3) the Canadian Human Rights Act had to be – and was – amended to include “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground of discrimination, and (4) it is deemed a “hate crime” and therefore a criminal act to do or say anything which might be construed as inciting hatred against homosexuals.

The Gang of Five did nothing, absolutely nothing, to fight the decriminalization of buggery, or counter the growing strides made in the coming years by the increasingly vocal “gay” rights lobby, or publicly admonish Roman Catholic politicians who violated Church teachings through overt support of the gay rights activists. The Gang alternately undermined Church teaching or were silent. Given their influence and status within the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) they set the standard for their bishop colleagues.

Alexander Carter was President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Joseph Auerle Plourde was Vice President and the remaining three members of the gang were active committee members in 1967 when Trudeau, as Pearson’s Minister of Justice first unsuccessfully introduced his Omnibus Bill.

Joseph Aurele Plourde was President of the CCCB in 1969 when Prime Minister Trudeau, with the able assistance of his Roman Catholic Minister of Justice John Turner, steamrolled the bill through parliament.


And back in Cornwall

And while the Gang of Five gave their wink wink wink nod nod to Trudeau, sodomy and homosexual acts, the scene playing itself out in Cornwall went something like this: the Classical College in Cornwall was closing its doors leaving behind a number of young lads who had been sodomised and/or molested by some of their Viatorian teachers; Father Don Scott was a relatively new priest in the diocese (1966) who was soon in charge of catechetics and would eventually die of AIDS; Father Hollis Lapierre had been in the diocese since his ordination in 1949 and kept his stash of porn tucked away in a little nook at the head of his bed; Bishop Adolphe Proulx had left Sudbury and was settling in to the Diocese of Alexandria with his young secretary and later master of Ceremonies and priest Gilles Deslaurier, Father Charles MacDonald was just ordained (1968), Father Luc Meunier was long gone from Cornwall and according to the books was in Marsden, Saskatchewan (Diocese of Prince Albert where Bishop Alexander Carters good friend Laurent Morin was bishop), Father Carl Stone was pastor at St. John Bosco in Cornwall, Father Paul Lapierre who had assisted Bishop Plourde with Liturgy while Plourde was in Alexandria had been retained by the CCCB to coordinate a French radio program “Le Jour du Seigneur” with CBC Radio, and down in London Father Eugene Larocque was Dean of Christ the King College (King’s College) while his Bishop, Emmett Carter, was busily implementing his and Archbishop Annibale Bugnini’s vision of Vatican II.

That’s the sanitized tip of the iceberg.


Other info of interest

17 October 2008: Abuse victims settle with church

20 May 2008: Children who seduce men (BLOG)

11 July 2006: More questions (BLOG)

Father Gaetan Deschamps page