Archbishop resigns over sexual abuse report
United Press International
July 18, 1990
[See the Winter report, Vol. 1,
Vol. 2, and
Conclusions and Recommendations.
See also the subsequent Royal Commission report, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.]
St. John's, Newfoundland - Newfoundland Archbishop Alphonsus Penney submitted his resignation to the Vatican Wednesday after a report prepared for the Roman Catholic Church condemned his failure to deal with sexual and physical abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage.
The report, prepared by former Newfoundland Lt. Gov. Gordon Winter following an investigation by a five-member commission, recommended the church publicly apologize to the abused and their families. It also recommended the church negotiate financial compensation with the abused.
The inquiry examined sexual and physical abuses in the last two decades by Catholic priests and the Christian Brothers, members of a Roman Catholic lay order who ran the orphanage.
Penney, who received a copy of the Winter Commission report eight days ago, told reporters at a news conference the report indicated ''the needs of the church at the present time cannot be met under my leadership. I considered that was a very loud and clear message to me.'' The report was made public Wednesday.
The Winter Commission inquiry, and a second public investigation into Mount Cashel ordered last year by the Newfoundland government, has haunted the province where the Roman Catholic church dominates everyday life. Hundreds of Newfoundland's 120,000 Catholics have left the church while others wrestle with their faith and re-examine the power wielded by the church.
Mount Cashel, which was closed as an institution earlier this year, was established in the last century when Newfoundland was still a British colony. It was operated as a charity, but spent the last 20 years or so as an institution of last resort that accepted young boys who had no other place to go.
In 1975, police investigated some 26 separate complaints of sexual and physical abuse by priests and lay staff at the orphanage. No charges were laid at the time, but in a deal struck with the Catholic Church in Newfoundland two brothers suspected of abuse were sent from the province.
Since the scandal became public last year, nine brothers and former brothers have been charged with abuse.
Former residents of the orphanage have stated publicly that provincial government officials and the Catholic Church ignored their complaints. The church has consistently denied knowledge of the abuse.
Father James Doody, chairman of the Canadian Council of Priests, said the report marks a ''historical point'' in the evolution of the Church.
''We're at rock bottom,'' Doody said. ''We have to deal with this and begin the healing process of the church and people. We have to do what we can to make it up to victims and families.''
Doody said the Catholic Church accepts the report despite its negative findings. He admitted the church must have known about the abuse, but not the extent of it or its effect on residents of the orphanage.
''Any effort to deal with it was inadequate in retrospect,'' he added.
The Winter Commission report said senior church officials were aware of allegations of child sexual abuse by the clergy as early as 1975, but did nothing.