Don’t they deserve to be told?

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I wrapped up my last blog “Not a boo”  saying that I have a little more information regarding Father James Roth OSFS  which I wold post later.

Later has come 🙂

Shortly after discovering that Father James Roth had spent time in Canada, specifically in the Archdiocese of Toronto, I contacted the Provincial for the Toledo-Detori Province for the Oblates of St. Francis de Slaes,  Father Ken McKenna, with several questions regarding Father Roth’s years in Canada.  With the exception of one, my questions were answered.  That one unanswered question related to Father Roth’s work with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board.  I was directed to, and given an email address for, Mr. Bruce Campbell.

Mr. Campbell is the media contact for the board.  On 31 January 2015 I emailed Mr. Campbell to ask what Father Roth’s duties were as a “priest-in-residence” for the school board  Mr Campbell replied that Father Roth served as Priest-in Residence at the board’s Catholic Eduction Centre (CEC) which is the administrative “head office” of the school board.  The priest’s duties were “primarily related to adult faith formation, celebrating weekly mass and other liturgical events, and working with our CEC and Keaton Centre (an operational facilities building) staff. ”  According to Mr. Campbell, Father Roth also “celebrated liturgical services in full school assembly or class assembly settings when requested. ”  I was told that Father’s  work in schools” was always under school staff or administrative supervision. ”

I in turn posed several further questions as follows:

“You say ‘His work in schools was always under school staff or administrative supervision.”’ Was there a directive to that effect? Also, was he one of the priests who would hear confessions of students?

“One more question: Have parents, students and teachers been informed that Father Roth has admitted that he was a molester? If yes, when, and how?”

That email was sent 31 March 2015.

Days passed.  No response.

Today (Friday 10 April) I contacted Mr.  Campbell again.  He told me he didn’t seem to have that last email I sent.  I realize that emails can get lost in a heap so fair enough.

Later in the day Mr. Campbell answered my questions as follows:

(1) Re was there a directive that Father Roth be under supervision?

“There is no formal directive. It is our board’s practice that any individual coming into a school who is not a staff member at the school to be accompanied by a teacher or administrator (principal/vp). This includes priests whose primary reason to visit would be to celebrate liturgical events.”

(2)  Re did Father Roth hear confessions at the schools?

“In terms of confessions, our schools do not have confessionals or booths. Confessions are heard in an open area with a teacher or other staff member nearby, but out of hearing range.”

(3)  Have parents, students and teachers been informed that Father Roth has admitted that he was a molester? If yes, when, and how?”

“Staff were informed of the issue via email statement of the matter on Tuesday of this week. Staff at the CEC (where Fr. Roth worked) were informed on Tuesday during staff meetings. A staff meeting was also held at the Keaton Centre, a nearby plant operations facility where Fr. Roth also ministered to staff. As you are aware, we also posted a statement on our website.”

Just two quick comments:

(1)  I haven’t been able to confirm as yet, but I am quite certain that Father Roth would have heard confessions at the schools.  In a confessional or out, and out of hearing range or not matters not:  if he was hearing confessions, then Father Roth listened to those children bare their souls.  If he so chose, Father Roth could identify the vulnerable.  If he so chose, he could establish a rapport with particular students.

(2)  The board was told 20 January 2015 that there were sex abuse allegations against Father Roth in the States.  The following day (21 Jan)  Father Roth was suspended from his position as priest-in residence for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board and shipped back to the States.

And then, …….silence!

Teachers and fellow staff were not told  until 07 April 2015.

As far as I can tell from the reply, parents have not been told personally.  True some will hear via the grapevine, or read about it in the paper, or happen upon the news on Sylvia’s Site, but – don’t parents deserve better?  Shouldn’t parents be told?  I firmly believe that they should.  It’s parents after all who usually first notice the change in Johnny’s behaviour (It could be Jane, but in this case  I’ll use Johnny). And isn’t it, after all, true that  in those cases those poor parents  don’t know or even suspect that “Father”  did something sexual to Johnny, and that consequently they often spend a tortured lifetime wondering what happened to make Johnny ‘go bad,’ or why he’s changed, or why he’s slipping in school, or why he refuses to go to church,  or why he’s drinking, or why the family dynamics have changed so drastically – and  all the while trying to pick up the pieces and berating themselves for what they think they must have done wrong.  Do parents not deserve to be told?

And, as far as I can tell, the students haven’t been told.  Is that right?  Mr. Campbell makes no mention of telling them, so I gather that they have not been told?

Why not?  Should they not know?  At least the children in the upper grades in high school?  Surely they can be told?   Surely they should be given opportunity to put things that this priest might have said or done into context?

I haven’t been in contact with the archdiocese, but the silence holds for its failures too.  For example, has anything been said to the parishioners at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga? Father Roth lived in the rectory and assisted in the Church for at least two years.  Should the Archbishop not be telling those parishioners?  Do they not have a right to know?  Should they not be hearing it from their shepherd?

And what about St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga, Ontario?  father Roth assisted at the church for several years.   Should the Archbishop not be telling those parishioners?

Why would a shepherd not tend to his flock?

Enough for now,


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1 Response to Don’t they deserve to be told?

  1. concerned parent says:

    This priest was absolutely around children and confessions are heard in closed quarters. Whether Father Jim conducted closed confessionals, I cannot say. What I can say is that Father Jim was frequently around children and also acted as a supply teacher at a school for a religious class when a teacher was away. To say he was involved with adult faith education is a broad generalization and completely taking away from the reality of this situation. I am truly sorry but our children deserve more safety then this.

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