For those unfamiliar with Southdown (Emmanuel Convalescent Centre) the facility is located in Aurora, Ontario, fifty kilometers north of Toronto and was established in 1965 “with the generous support of the bishops” primarily to provide treatment for alcoholic priests the facility comprises over 100 rolling acres of farmland. [In 2015, about eight years after this note was written, the facility relocated to Holland Landing, Ontario, 10 kilometers north of the original site in Aurora. ]
Although it is a Canadian institution approximately half of Southdown’s clientele is American. There are also clients from the UK. It is well known too that a goodly number of Canadian clerical molesters are sent across the border to treatment centres in the United States.
Southdown is known in Roman Catholic lay circles throughout Canada as the recycling centre. It is a rather morbid joke that clergy who enter as “homosexual” come out affirmed, those who enter upholding Church teaching on the subject come out as gay rights advocates or black-listed, and those who enter as homosexual-paedophiles come out looking for “consensual” relationships, preferably with adults but if need be with those who are legally ‘of age.’
According to “Religious Rehab,” an 06 April 2002 article in the National Post, a nun reported that during one Southdown group therapy session “Priests were laughing, saying it was safer to have sex with males or boys because there weren’t any pregnancy problems.”
A more recent addition to the property is the Carter Centre, a facility which “endeavours to facilitate and support leadership development” named after the Carter Family – Emmett Cardinal Carter, Alex Carter, both members of the Gang of Five, and their two sisters, both nuns.
The Carter Centre was the brain-child of Sister Donna J. Markham, an undergraduate of St. Michael’s College Toronto with a doctorate in psychology who served as President and Executive Officer of Southdown from 1993 to 2003.
Markham opposed the American bishops “zero tolerance” policy for clerical child molesters claiming like Rosetti that the numbers of clerical molesters at centres such as Southdown and St. Luke’s were down because once a priests knows he’s to defrocked he no longer has interest in seeking treatment!
Her theology falls into that of radical Church feminists who have climbed on board the eco-feminist/ ‘Mother Earth” band wagon, all twirling merrily in the cosmos while searching for an elusive global consciousness and trying to be one with the earth. Those who can manage to read, decipher, digest and comprehend Markham’s lecture “The Leader’s Mantle: Creating Connection in Chaotic Times” can perhaps momentarily sympathize with Southdown’s molesting client-clergy who were undoubtedly subjected to Markhamese-type feminist spirituality when they weren’t viewing porn flicks hooked up to the “peter meter,” the nickname given to the penile plethysmograph which measures a man’s level of arousal based on the circumference of his penis.
Markham’s notion of “conflict-partenering” and forgiveness will no doubt find ample promotion by Father John Allan Loftus and be well-utilised during the Phase II huggy-bear-kissy-face sessions. On the other hand her notion that we “shatter the connectedness of creation when we stand in silence in the face of injustice in our governments, or in our church” may in this instance- as is the Cornwall norm – receive the silent treatment.
Father John Allan Loftus preceded Markham and served as Executive and Clinical Director from 1986 to 1994. (There seems to have been an overlap between Loftus and Markham)
Father Candice Connors was Executive Director of Southdown in the late 70s. Connors, who later served as President and CEO of St. Lukes from 1992-1996, is, according Engle “on record as claiming that victims of clerical sex abuse tend to exaggerate the extent of the harm inflicted on them, and that the Church suffers from a cultural bias against priests who molest minors.,” Like Peterson and Rosetti Connors “believes that there is no connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.”
As an interesting side story, Connors was in charge at Southdown when one of Newfoundland’s early known clerical molesters Father Ronald Hubert Kelly arrived in the late 70s to serve his ‘sentence’ after pleading guilty to ten counts of sexual assault against teenage boys. Kelly received a suspended sentence, two years probation and, according to Michael Harris in Unholy Orders, was obliged as part of his sentence to enter Southdown “until results are satisfactory.” Four-and-a-half months after he entered Southdown Connors reported that “We are confident here that with Father Kelly’s cooperation we have uncovered the fundamental causes of his problems and that he is well on his way to complete recovery.”
It seems that arrangements had been worked out between Southdown, Toronto’s Cardinal Archbishop Emmett Carter and Kelly. Carter, one of Canada’s influential Gang of Five, took Kelly in to the Toronto Archdiocese, gave this known child molester a parish and in fairly short order had him as a key aide and Vice-Chancellor of Temporal Affairs.
It all came to crashing halt when Kelly’s name was raised at the Newfoundland Hughes Commission into the Mount Cashel sexual abuse scandal and word of Kellys sexual proclivities slipped out into the public domain. And Kelly was gone – right out of the priesthood. He went on to become a multi-millionaire.