By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News
[Ottawa – CCN} – Archbishop Peter Hundt says “sacrifices” will have to be made, but the Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland has to move forward with compassion and understanding after a “dark chapter” in the archdiocese’s history.
In a message delivered at Masses across the archdiocese on the weekend of Feb. 13-14, the archbishop explained to the faithful what must be done to address the abuses that occurred at the Mount Cashel Orphanage, now that Canada’s Supreme court has let a lower court ruling stand that made the archdiocese “vicariously liable” for abuses that occurred at the notorious orphanage run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland.
“Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed our archdiocese’s application for Leave to Appeal. This makes final the judgement of the Appeal Court of Newfoundland and Labrador that the Archdiocese of St. John’s is vicariously liable for the abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1940s, 50s and 60s,” said a statement from Archbishop Hundt that was read during Masses within the archdiocese.
“We must now move to address these claims to the best of our ability, and in justice to the victims,” the statement continued.
The situation at the Archdiocese of St. John’s comes as the fallout from what went on at the Mount Cashel Orphanage continues to be felt across the county decades after the orphanage closed.
A lawsuit filed in B.C. on Feb. 8 claims a Catholic order moved known abusers from the Newfoundland orphanage to two schools in Vancouver where the lawsuit alleges some youth were also abused. The lawsuit filed in British Columbia Supreme Court claims that from 1976 to 1983 the Christian Brothers transferred six members facing abuse allegations from Mount Cashel Orphanage to Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate.
The Archdiocese of Vancouver “feels great sadness and regret for anyone who has suffered sexual abuse from a person in power,” said a statement Feb. 8 that was published in the B.C. Catholic newspaper.
The statement also said the archdiocese and Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese which were both named in the proposed suit do not own or operate the schools, adding “these two schools are both run by independent foundations. They have their own land and buildings, have their own curriculum, and make all their own hiring decisions. As a result we can make no further comment on this case.”
In relation to Newfoundland’s St. John’s archdiocese, the Supreme Court of Canada declined on Jan. 14, 2021 to hear an appeal from the archdiocese on the issue of liability. The orphanage was run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland, which declared bankruptcy in 2012 while settling abuse lawsuits. The orphanage itself was demolished in 1992.
The archdiocese had argued before the courts that it was not involved in the orphanage’s day-to-day operations and that the Christian Brothers was a lay organization whose members were not ordained priests of the archdiocese.
But now that liability in Newfoundland has been settled, St. John’s archdiocese is consulting with financial advisors on how best to settle victim claims.
“The resolution of these claims will have significant implications for the parishes and parishioners of our archdiocese. Therefore, we are presently working with financial and other advisers to discern how best to move forward in addressing them,” Archbishop Hundt’s statement continued.
“There will be changes and sacrifices required of all of us as we move through this process. I cannot promise that the road ahead will be an easy one, but certainly the practice and celebration of our Catholic faith will continue. I hope that this resolution process will bring with it healing for the victims, their loved ones, and the entire community of faith, and closure to a dark chapter in the history of our Archdiocese.
“As we move forward with this process, I ask that you please join with me in praying for God’s guidance, healing for the victims, and understanding, compassion and patience for us all,” he said.
– With files from the BC Catholic
Archdiocese of Vancouver responds to proposed Mount Cashel class-action lawsuit
By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic
[Vancouver, Feb. 9, 2021 – Canadian Catholic News] – The Archdiocese of Vancouver issued a response to a proposed class-action lawsuit made public Feb. 8 involving allegations of sexual abuse at two local schools run by Christian brothers. The schools named are Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate.
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver feels great sadness and regret for anyone who has suffered sexual abuse from a person in power,” said a statement Feb. 8, 2021.
The statement said the Vancouver archdiocese and Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese (both named in the proposed suit) do not own or operate the schools. “These two schools are both run by independent foundations. They have their own land and buildings, have their own curriculum, and make all their own hiring decisions. As a result we can make no further comment on this case.”
It added that class action lawsuits “often begin by naming a multitude of defendants, some of whom have little connection to the case.”
The suit, filed in B.C.’s Supreme Court today, alleges that between 1976 and 1983 six men who abused children at Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s (run by the Christian brothers) were transferred to the two Vancouver schools. The plaintiff, Darren Liptrot, says he was sexually abused while he attended Vancouver College from 1980 to 1985. The claims have not been proven in court.
Vancouver College also reacted to the news. In a message to alumni, president Johnny Bevacqua and Chair of the Board of Directors Sue Dvorak wrote “these are deeply troubling allegations and we take these claims very seriously. We are reviewing the Class Action Filing to learn the full scope of the filing, and will respond accordingly once we have a better understanding and additional information.”
They added that “crimes of abuse are tragic and have lifelong impacts on those involved. Vancouver College expresses profound concern and sympathy to anyone who has been impacted in any way by any abuse … it is our top priority that all students come to school feeling safe and respected.”
St. Thomas More Collegiate also reacted, saying in a statement that the allegations are “deeply troubling.” They are reviewing the claim and say they will respond once they have have more information.
In January, the Supreme Court of Canada refused an appeal of a ruling that found the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in St. John’s liable for abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage. The archdiocese was ordered to pay $2 million in damages.
The St. John’s archdiocese had denied it was responsible for abuse that occurred at Mount Cashel and came to light in the Hughes Inquiry 1989, saying it was not involved in day-to-day operations of the orphanage and that the Christian Brothers who ran it are a lay organization whose members are not ordained priests.
The Christian Brothers of Ireland declared bankruptcy in 2012 while settling abuse lawsuits. The orphanage was demolished in 1992.
This proposed class action suit is not related to one filed against the Archdiocese of Vancouver in 2020 claiming the archdiocese was “systematically negligent” in protecting parishioners from abuse by clergy. The plaintiff, a woman identified as K.S. in court documents, alleged she was abused by a priest at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the 1980s.
With files from The Catholic Register