Updated: Mon Aug. 25 2008 19:08:53
The Catholic Church admits it mishandled past claims of sexual abuse against its clergy in Cornwall. The area’s former bishop took the stand at the Cornwall inquiry on Monday.
Former bishop Eugene Larocque oversaw the faith of Roman Catholics in the Cornwall and Alexandria area for almost 30 years.
At the Cornwall inquiry, it was the spiritual leader’s responsibility to lift the veil on how the church handled multiple claims of sexual abuse.
Testimony revealed that the diocese knowingly hired a New York priest who had been dismissed from his former post for misconduct involving young boys.
“We know already about an illegal settlement and some of what occurred as a result of that,” said the lead counsel for the inquiry, Eugene Engelmann. “We’re exploring that, and we’re exploring how these institutions work together, why things were found out when they were and perhaps why they weren’t found out.”
The lawyer for the diocese says his client does not dispute that the past could have been handled better. This is why it is fully co-operating now.
“The diocese is co-operating with the proceeding and has been for three years. We’ve produced all of our files and archives and we’ve offered all of our witnesses to come testify,” said David Sherriff-Scott.
Some Cornwall residents said that it is too late to restore their faith in the church.
“It’s very hard to get back into it and trust the authority,” one resident told CTV Ottawa.
Roger Robertson says he was a victim of abuse.
“I know I look in that mirror, I know who I am. These people have to look in it everyday and they’ve got to deal with the big guy up there, not me,” Robertson said.
The inquiry will continue to examine the institutional response of the church. The current bishop is also set to take the stand.
With a report from CTV’s John Hua
Former Cornwall Bishop Returns To Inquiry Stand
August 25, 2008 — All eyes will be focused on the Cornwall Public Inquiry this morning as former Bishop Eugene Larocque returns to the stand. Larocque will face questions from various lawyers over the next couple of days about his role in a payout from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall to an alleged victim of child sex abuse. It is likely that he will also be asked why he recruited a priest who had a criminal record. The week will end with testimony from current bishop, Paul Andre Durocher. The pace of the inquiry is expected to be aggressive until Christmas. Thee will be almost 50 days of testimony through the first week of December. Hearings start at 9:30 this morning after a three week break.