Retired Vatican Official Wanted in Canada

By Beth Duff-Brown
Associated Press, carried in Newsday [Canada]
February 3, 2006,0,2306773.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines

TORONTO -- An arrest warrant has been issued for a retired Vatican official accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old altar boy when he was a parish priest back in his native Canada, police said Friday.

Monsignor Bernard Prince, 71, once the secretary general for the Vatican's Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and close to the late Pope John Paul II, is now retired in Rome.

The alleged victim, now in his 50s, claimed he was molested when he was an altar boy at the church where Prince served in the Upper Ottawa Valley in the late 1960s before moving to Rome to serve the Vatican.

Sgt. Kristine Rae-Chollette of the Ontario Provincial Police said the initial arrest warrant for two charges of sexual assault was issued in October, but not made public until this week because other possible victims were still coming forward.

The allegations are the latest in a string of sex-abuse charges that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church, a problem apparently so widespread it prompted the Vatican to demand evaluations of seminaries in the United States.

Canada in addition carries the shameful legacy of sexual and psychological abuse of aboriginal children by clergy, when natives were forced from their homes to attend Christian-run residential schools.

Prince told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday that he had heard about the allegations, but had never been contacted directly by authorities. Rae-Chollette, however, said Prince had been informed of the charges.

She said investigators may launch extradition proceedings against Prince if he does not voluntarily return to Ontario.

Prince told The Globe and Mail that he had retained the same lawyer who represents his Ontario diocese, the Catholic Diocese of Pembroke. The diocese would not give out the attorney's name or telephone number.

The Rev. Richard W. Smith, bishop of Pembroke, issued a statement professing sadness over the charges against Prince.

"The filing of charges against this priest is deeply troubling," Smith said. "The Diocese of Pembroke extends support to any parties concerned in this case, and prays that the truth concerning this matter may be brought to light."

He said the diocese would cooperation with authorities.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.