Answers at last

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

30 August 2008

There was never any doubt that the testimony of former Bishop Eugene LaRocque at the Cornwall Public Inquiry would draw attention. After all, he was the man who led the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese between 1974 and 2002, a period of time when many claims were made of improprieties by priests.

Despite the expectations, and misgivings for others, a number of the revelations made by LaRocque can only be described as stunning.

Over his eight days on the stand the inquiry heard that LaRocque had brought into the fold a priest convicted of sexual abuse in the U. S., ignored church protocol when dealing with a claim of impropriety and signed a $32,000 deal that kept an abuse victim from going to the police.

At the end of his testimony Thursday, Larocque offered an apology to the community, the faithful and anyone hurt by a priest. He also said he would keep all in his daily prayers. And well he should.

It was an important move to offer the apology, but for many it comes far too late. It would have made a world of difference if the bishop had took this stance two decades ago.

In his position as bishop of the diocese LaRocque had the responsibility of leading and protecting the flock, and that includes parishioners as well as priests. Clearly, he failed in that task.

While it was a time of uncertainty for the church, with claims of abuse across the country coming to light, when protocols were put in place, LaRocque still chose to flout them.

While the consequences of these actions will never be completely rectified having the frmer bishop answer these questions will hopefully help resolve some of the lingering issues that have hung over the community for years.