|Victims of Priests Want Share of Proceeds from Mass for Brother Andre
By Sidhartha Banerjee
Globe and Mail
October 27, 2010
Victims of pedophile priests say they want some of the proceeds from the giant stadium mass planned this weekend in honour of André Bessette's ascension to sainthood.
In a letter sent Tuesday to church leaders, two victims' groups ask for a reply to repeated requests for financial compensation. They said their members should benefit from the $5-a-head being collected at the Olympic Stadium celebration in Montreal this Saturday.
The massive event recognizing Bessette, known as Brother André, will attract top dignitaries – including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest – along with leading Catholic church figures like Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte.
Tuesday's letter was addressed to Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal, and Mgr. Pierre Morissette, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A spokesman for victims says members don't plan to protest the event in person because, he says, it could be inappropriate and hurtful to those who still believe in the church.
"For people who still have faith in the church, it's still important so we didn't feel that it was appropriate to do a demonstration on the spot," said Robert Cornellier, spokesman for victims at College Notre-Dame.
But Mr. Cornellier said it's important for the church to listen to victims of sexual abuse.
"We wanted to remind them about College Notre-Dame – which is the same congregation as Brother André – and to let them know that there are still cases going on," Mr. Cornellier said.
Police in Montreal have recently asked anyone with a complaint, even one dating back 40 years, to come forward. Mr. Cornellier, on behalf of his late brother, is seeking the right to launch a class-action lawsuit.
The Congregation of Holy Cross, which founded both the college and Brother André's beloved St. Joseph's Oratory, issued an apology earlier this month and promised to co-operate with any subsequent investigation.
Notre Dame is now a private, co-ed high school.
Mr. Cornellier said victims deserve answers to their repeated demands for financial assistance.
"The apologies are too little, too late, and at this point we wish that the congregation would collaborate with the police and give them all the documents they need," Mr. Cornellier said.
"We want them to denounce the brothers or the clergymen who have committed those acts."
Brother André, a beloved holy man who lived a humble life, was canonized earlier this month after a lifetime in which he was credited with working as a healer and performing numerous miracles.
More than one million people filed past his coffin before his 1937 funeral.
Saturday's mass is expected to attract up to 60,000 and, its organizers say, will be one of the biggest events since the stadium was built for the 1976 Summer Olympics.
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