Church Not Suable Says Bishop Henry

By Kristen Enevold
Calgary Sun [Canada]
January 24, 2004

Victims of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church shouldn't hold that body responsible, says Calgary Bishop Fred Henry.

"Let's go for the individual that has direct, provable negligence or liability," he said in response to a group of Newfoundland victims seeking to sue the church.

"The Roman Catholic Church isn't a corporate entity or an individual, so why sue them in general," he said.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops intervened in the decades-old case, which has the now-adult victims of a Newfoundland priest seeking millions of dollars in damages from the church.

Kevin Bennett abused up to 36 boys at various parishes in the 1970s and '80s, and served five years in jail for the crime.

The CCCB wants the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold a previous ruling that the Roman Catholic Church is a non-suable entity.

That said, Henry believes victims of sexual abuse still have recourse by targeting the alleged abuser, and if necessary the diocese's bishop, if it's ever proven he knowingly covered up the matter.

"I don't think the media has been fair with this issue because they look at it from the vantage point of the victim," Henry said.

"But (sexual abuse) is serious, and my heart bleeds for the victims, but I'm distressed at the superficial reporting centred around this lawsuit."