Our tongue-tied bishops’ politically-correct response to clerical homosexual predators
Vol. 10 No. 1, Jan-March 1999
In the late 1980s, a spate of sexual abuse charges was levelled against a number of Newfoundland’s diocesan clergy; these were accompanied by revelations of the years of sexual molestation endured by boys at St. John’s Mount Cashel orphanage. To quell demands for action after years of cover-up, Archbishop Penney of St. John’s, Newfoundland commissioned an Enquiry headed by an Anglican, the Honourable Gordon A. Winter, the former Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland. The four other members of the Commission were Sister Nuala P. Kenny, Father Everett MacNeil, Francis G. O’Flaherty, and John A. Scott PhD. The results of the Commission’s efforts were released in 1990 in the three-volume Winter Commission Report.
The Report is a disturbing read in that it quickly becomes apparent that the Commission went to great lengths to shift its focus from the obvious homosexual dimension of the problem at hand. It did acknowledge that its focus on sexual abuse was “the involvement of male children in any form of sexual activity with members of the Roman Catholic clergy.” It also acknowledged that: the cases before it were homosexual in nature; the clerical predators of Newfoundland “engaged in homosexual behaviour by preference”; the boys involved were at least 12 years old when the sexual abuse started and there was therefore “no compelling evidence of classical pedophilia,”; some of the “perpetrators were sexually active with a number of adolescent male partners at any given time” and “also appear to be homosexual,”and; approximately 30% of the diocesan clergy were “homosexual in orientation.” However, despite these stated observations — which were categorized as “a statistical anomaly” — the Commission refrained from delving into the sphere of homosexuality and completely avoided Church teaching on the subject. Instead, rather than focus on the startling fact that 30% of the clergy had an orientation which is in itself “objectively disordered,” and that a number of Roman Catholic clergy with an “objectively disordered” sexual orientation were actively practising homosexuals, and that a number of the latter were preying on and sexually molesting adolescent males, the Commission chose to take the politically-correct route. So, among other things, the politically-correct Commission indicated that it was disturbed by the “climate of homophobia” in the Archdiocese of St. John’s, advised that this needs to be addressed “if society is to avoid the unnecessary stigmatization of a significant portion of humankind,” and recommended that “Education programmes should direct public attitudes towards a healthy understanding of sexuality with concomitant goals of discouraging sexual stereotyping and homophobia.” In short, the Commission sidestepped the real issue, that of predatory clerical homosexuals. Instead, it took the opportunity to rely on “feminist experience,” bash the patriarchal structure of the Church, and broaden its study to the “larger social issue of child sexual abuse.”
The final Report evoked accolades from Canadian bishops and became akin to their bible on sexual abuse.
The CCCB Steps in
The same year the Report was released yet another clerical sexual scandal of monumental proportions was erupting in Ontario. A number of priests and Brothers were charged when former residents of reform schools run by the Christian Brothers in Alfred and Uxbridge alleged they had been sexually molested while at the schools. This time the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) stepped in to do damage control. An Ad Hoc committee comprising André Boyer (Chief of Social Services for Laval, Quebec School Boards), Rita Cadieux (former Deputy-Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission who was actively involved with the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities), Father Gerald Copeman (priest from Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, active with Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, diocesan director of Cursillo, President of the National Federation of Councils of Priests), Sr. Nuala Patricia Kenny (pediatrician, Professor at Dalhousie University, Halifax and Chief of Pediatrics at the Isaac Walton Killam Hospital for Children in Halifax), Archbishops Roger Ébacher (Gatineau-Hull, Quebec), Adam Exner OMI (Vancouver, British Columbia) and James MacDonald csc (St. John’s, Newfoundland) was established to address the situation. The committee was chaired by Archbishop Ébacher who described sexual molestation as “a form of misconduct.”
The Ad Hoc Committee relied on Father Frank Morrissey OMI and Mr.Paul McAuliffe to chair two of its four work groups. Father Morrisey, who enjoys worldwide repute in the field of Canon Law and has been known to offer canonical assistance to dioceses rocked by scandal, believes and lectures that child molesters are not “moral degenerates,” that child molestation is akin to alcoholism which was once viewed as sinful and is now understood to be a disease, that sexual molestation isn’t grounds to defrock a priest, and that it is not “responsible stewardship” to throw away the $250,000 investment that goes into cost of ordaining a Catholic priest. Paul McAuliffe, a worker with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, was actually invited onto the Committee after making known his modernist criticisms of the patriarchal structures of the Church and his equally modernist opinion that it is the Church’s misuse of power which “seems” to support child abuse. He was also a known member of the homosexual-friendly Coalition of Concerned Canadian Catholics.
McAuliffe and Father Morrissey, with their two confreres Dr. Jeannine Guindon (professional psychotherapist) and Father Jacques Gagné OMI (former rector at Ottawa’s University of St. Paul Seminary), hammered out guidelines with the able assistance of yet another team of “collaborators.” 1 Included were three interesting personages: Father John Loftus SJ, director of Southdown Centre, a facility which treats clergy and religious with problems of sexuality and/or addiction (Southdown is known to be homosexual-friendly); David McCann, the controversial victim from the Alfred scandal who helped the AIDS Committee of Toronto with its fundraising; and, Father Peter O’Hanley, a priest charged and found guilty of sexual molestation.
The Ad Hoc Committee studied, lauded and was influenced by the Winter Commission Report. In June of 1992 its report, From Pain to Hope, was published by the CCCB. The Report included recommendations that legal fees incurred by priests charged with sexual molestation be picked up by the diocese (read: your contributions) and proposed ways to reintegrate convicted clerical molesters into parishes.
Breach of Trust: Breach of Faith, a compilation of “educational materials” for the general public divided into five study sessions, was published simultaneously. Here we really see what the Ad Hoc Committee is all about. The five study sessions were designed “as a tool for raising awareness and promoting education on all aspects of child sexual abuse.” These consciousness-raising materials quote extensively from the Winter Commission Report, resort to New Age imagery, breathing, visualization and role-playing techniques, suggest that the definition of family “must take into account single parents, common-law relationships and other emerging styles of family life,” promote the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and advance the feminist philosophy that the sexual abuse of children “is perpetuated by ignoring the prevalence of patriarchy in our society.” Like the Winter Commission Report, the Ad Hoc Committee completely avoids Church teaching on homosexuality and takes great pains to ensure that homosexuality retains the acceptable moral and legal status it has acquired in the secular world.
Nowhere in any of these reports and guidelines does one find commonsense guidelines which would guarantee a reduction in the cases of sexual assault by predatory clergy and help to restore faith in the Church, i.e.: compel seminaries to screen-out males with a “homosexual” “sexual orientation”; ensure that any seminarian known to engage in homosexual activity with adults, adolescents or boys is thrown out of the seminary and those engaging in illegal activities are reported to the authorities; defrock all priests who are known homosexuals, and; defrock priests who have been charged and convicted of sexual molestation. Only when such guidelines emerge from the mouths of our tongue-tied bishops will Catholics believe their bishops will purge sexual predators from the ranks of the clergy and bank ‘zero tolerance’ for clerical sexual perversion in all its abhorrent and immoral manifestations. Then, and only then, will Canadian Catholics believe that our bishops truly want to eradicate sexual perversion from the Church, protect children, and restore the sacred dignity of the priesthood.
- Stephen Amesse (then a Senate Research Assistant, ordained to the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, April 1999 at age 41), Jeffrey King (then an Ottawa lawyer and staunch supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada, recently ordained to the priesthood at Ottawa’s St. Patrick’s Basilica at age 58), Dr. Jocelyn Aubut (psychiatrist), Charlene Belleau (sexual abuse research coordinator for the Cariboo Tribal Council in British Columbia), Dr. John Bradford (Ottawa physician who regularly assesses perpetrators of sexual crimes), Colette Brown (member of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society and specialist in work groups for the treatment of sexual abuse), Sister Marie-Paule (canon lawyer and vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Gaspé, Quebec), Father Michael Doiron SJ (superior of the Jesuit community in Ottawa), Brian Dunn (barrister and solicitor and board member of Catholic Charities of Toronto), Marguerite Evans (nurse), Dr. Francis Forde (psychologist with “longtime experience counselling seminarians”), Adrian Hewitt (Ottawa lawyer), Elizabeth Lugo (member of the Toronto Metropolitan School Board), William Malone (Superintendent of Wellington County Separate School Board, Ontario), Father Anthony Mancini (coordinator of Ministry to Priests Program for the Archdiocese of Montreal), Sister Mary McDevitt IHM, (Pastoral Consultant for Toronto Children’s Aid Society and former spiritual counsellor at Southdown Centre), Dr. A.M. McFarthing (Sudbury, Ontario physician), Marcellina Mian (physician and Director of the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Program at Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital), Father Michael O’Reilly (Canon Law professor at Ottawa’s University of Saint Paul), Father Marc Ouellet PSS (rector at the major Seminary of Montreal), Father Roch Pagé (Canon Law professor at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University), Father Léo Pigeon OMI (retired professor with the Faculty of Education at University of Ottawa), Father Terrence Prendergast SJ (then professor at Regis College in Toronto’s St. Michael’s University, now Bishop of Halifax), Msgr. Jean-Marc Robillard (director of formation for future priests with the Diocese of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec), Dr. Gilles Schrer (psychiatrist at the Institut Pinel de Montréal).
[04 December 2014: Father Stephen Amesse has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference. Charges date to 2008 – relate to allegations of sex abuse of a 14-year-old boy .]