B. C. Catholic [Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia]
June 29, 2021
By Agnieszka Ruck
The latest progress report from the committee studying clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver names five more clergymen involved in abuse settlements, lawsuits, or other cases.
The previously unpublished names are Father Roland Joncas, Brother Edward Patrick English, Father Frederick Robert Neilsen, Father Duncan George Goguillot, and Father William Crawford Mendenhall.
The cases of Joncas, English, and Goguillot involved allegations of abuse of a minor, while Mendenhall reportedly admitted to sexual misconduct with adult men. Information published about Neilsen doesn’t specify the age of those who came forward alleging sexual abuse, but says he served as a high school counsellor for five years.
Joncas and Goguillot are deceased and Neilson and Medenhall were removed from ministry or laicized. A lawsuit involving allegations against Goguillot is currently before the courts, while English was named as an accused in a class action lawsuit in 2021.
More details about the allegations and where these men served are in the report.
The report also updates allegations involving Father Johannes Holzapfel and Paul Blancard, who were named in previous reports.
In 2019, a Case Review Committee comprising victims/survivors, lay people, priests, and lawyers studied known historical cases of sexual abuse in the archdiocese and put forward 31 recommendations.
An Implementation Working Group was then tasked with studying progress made on these recommendations and to make regular, public reports. That committee’s first comprehensive update was in December 2020.
Now, the June 2021 report further describes progress made and some recent challenges faced.
Among the steps taken are the launch of an Office of Victim/Survivor Support in July 2020 that has since expanded to serve the dioceses of Victoria, Kamloops, and Prince George. A Review Board that studies all allegations of abuse has been reconstituted include a majority of lay people. The board is chaired by Suzanne Nixon, a lay woman who has been given access to all files related to clerical sexual abuse in a central location at the John Paul II Pastoral Centre. (A B.C. Catholic interview with Nixon will appear in next week’s edition).
Other recent progress includes the completion of a doctorate in clinical psychology by Father Bryan Duggan, which begins the launch of a team of “trauma-informed clerics;” the formation of a committee to address clericalism; updates to the archdiocese’s Safe Environment Policies; and the launch of a third-party reporting service by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
There are still some recommendations that remain to be addressed. The report said a comprehensive victim/survivor care plan is still under development, as is a system for annual performance reviews for priests. The archdiocese still does not have access to the files of all priests from other religious communities who have served here, and the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary hold on plans to host annual listening circles.
Despite these setbacks, the committee behind the report says the process of implementing the 31 recommendations “is bearing fruit.”
“This work is critical to helping people heal who have been deeply affected by clergy abuse. The Church is firmly committed to addressing clerical sexual abuse and underlying contributing factors fully and honestly. Our goal is to put an end to clerical sexual abuse.”
The IWG has committed to publishing progress reports biannually. The next is expected in November 2021.
The full June 2021 report is available here.
The full list of 31 recommendations and the names of all members of the Case Review Committee and the Implementation Working Group are here.
The names of all priests criminally convicted, named in settled lawsuits, or in other public cases, that have been publicly released by the archdiocese are in various reports found here.
If you or someone you know has experienced clergy sexual abuse, the archdiocese encourages you to report it and take a step towards the healing and care you deserve, no matter how long ago the abuse may have occurred.
To report abuse by a clergy member in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, call (604) 363-7338 or 1-800-968-3146. When you call, you can share your experience, explore counselling options, and get help in reporting the abuse to the appropriate authorities.
To report abuse by a member of a religious order, lay employee, or volunteer in the archdiocese, visit www.rcav.org/reporting for contact details.