N.b. Catholic Church Says There May Be No Money Left to Compensate Sex Abuse Victims
By Anna Maria Tremonti
November 22, 2017
|Moncton Archbishop Valery Vienneau told CBC News he is very worried about the finances of the church. (CBC)|
"It destroyed most of my youth."
"It was very hard trying to hide what was happening. And I also thought that I was the only one."
"As soon as someone opened the door, then it flooded out."
These are the words of a New Brunswick man, using the pseudonym Pierre, who alleges that Catholic priest Camille Leger sexually abused him for half a decade as a child.
Camille Leger is now deceased, but over 30 complaints were brought against him.
56 alleged cases of sex abuse before the courts
And almost every month for the past year, lawsuits have been filed against New Brunswick's Catholic Church by alleged victims seeking compensation for sexual abuse by priests.
The recent wave of allegations follows an earlier conciliation process that led to settlements with nearly 200 victims of sexual abuse by priests in New Brunswick.
There are now 56 alleged cases of sex abuse before the courts in the province involving the church — and Moncton Archbishop Valery Vienneau told CBC News he is concerned they no longer have the money to compensate all the victims coming forward.
"That's ridiculous," Pierre tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
"I think it he's trying to manipulate to get himself out … Most people know the Catholic religion is a very rich religion."
'They're just continuing to try and protect their own interests and their clergy.'
- Brenda Brunelle
Brenda Brunelle, who heads up the Canadian chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), considers the church's comments of financial instability offensive.
"They're just continuing to try and protect their own interests and their clergy. I think it's a further insult to the survivors that have endured suffering at their hands. I think they are 100 per cent responsible — really — for what they have done."
|The diocese centre in Dieppe, NB., was sold a few years ago to find money to compensate sexual abuse victims. (CBC)|
But Pierre stresses that compensation has never been an end in itself but rather a strategy for inspiring institutional change in the Catholic Church.
"When we first started, it had absolutely nothing to do with the money. We had certain demands … a list of things that we knew by experience that we did not want other kids to go through. They looked at it, and they pretty well threw it away."
"People said, 'If they don't want to listen to us on these items, then let's bring it to their door and sue them. If we take money from them, maybe it's going to hurt their pockets and then maybe they'll listen to us.' But they never did," said Pierre.
'They need to make it a safe place for children'
Pierre and his affiliate group want the dioceses and priests to admit they were wrong, and for certain measures to be taken to mitigate future abuse — such as never leaving a child and priest alone.
Brunelle says significant changes are needed to prevent this happening again.
"They need to pre-screen their priests. They need to suspend or defrock priests that have been credibly accused and convicted — and they need to make it a safe place for children."
"They need to stop the abuse."
The Current did contact Moncton Archbishop Valery Vienneau for a comment, but producers haven't received a response.