Canada police renew effort to arrest ‘devil priest’ for alleged abuse of Inuit children

The Guardian [London, England]

March 29, 2022

By Leyland Cecco

Royal Canadian Mounted Police say an arrest warrant was issued last month for Johannes Rivoire, who currently lives in France

Police in Canada have laid a new charge against a “devil priest” hiding in France amid allegations he sexually abused multiple Inuit children.

The case against Johannes Rivoire, who victims say has evaded justice for decades, received renewed focus this week when Canada’s Inuit leader requested the pope personally intervene during a visit to the Vatican by a delegation of Indigenous groups.

Meeting privately with Pope Francis on Monday, Natan Obed, head of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, asked that Rivoire return to Canada to “stand trial for the harms he has done”.

Obed called on the pope to use his “influence with the relevant authorities” to have Rivoire extradited, or for the priest to be tried in France.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued last month for Rivoire, 93, who currently lives in Lyon, France.

Rivoire, a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, worked in several Arctic communities in the 1960s and 70s before returning to France in 1993.

Inuk elder Peter Irniq told APTN News last year that his friend Marius Tungilik was one of the Rivoire’s victims. Tungilik died by suicide in 2012 at age 55. His friends say he was broken by the abuse he suffered at the hands of Rivoire.

“[Marius] drank and drank and drank. He was very much haunted by this devil priest,” said Irniq.

There are believed to be at least five other victims.

Police laid three charges against Rivoire in 1998, but he was already in France. The charges were eventually stayed after Canadian authorities felt France’s policy of not extraditing citizens would limit their ability to bring to court.

The new charge dates back to allegations occurring between 1974 and 1979. There is a publication ban on the identity of the complainant.

Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Canada have called on Rivoire to turn himself over to authorities and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has said “the church should not stand in their way but assist those who have been victims to seek justice and healing”.