The Gang of Five

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 Brodeur he was not chosen to replace the Bishop, instead 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