Connecting the dots

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It’s taken me a while to get this together – I ended up looking up all sorts of things 🙂   But, on the whole this is what I wanted to say about about the massive Father John E. Sullivan cover-up.  There is a little more info which I will add later regarding Sullivan’s years in Montreal and activities as a priest during those years.  It won’t take long to to put that together, but I did want to get this much posted now

As you know, this new look at the Father John Sullivan sex abuse scandal started with my finding of the following court document which specifically references a number of otherwise publicly  unknown facts facts regarding Sullivan.

So, here we go…..

Connecting dots…………….

First, the document:

10 February 2015:  Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie v. AXA Insurance (2015 ONSC 838)  (The Sault Ste Maire Diocese is ordered “to produce for examination for discovery” Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe to answer questions concerning Canon Law,  the policies and practices of the Diocese and the operation and oversight of the Diocese.  There is considerable mention in the decision of facts related to one of the diocese’s infamous sexual predators, Father John Sullivan.    The legal action however relates to 16 sexual claims against diocesan priests.  The diocese was arguing that it is insured.  AXA insurance was arguing that it is entitled in law to deny coverage on the basis of material misrepresentation, material non-disclosure and bad faith.  The position taken by the defendant is that the policy is void ab initio.)

And now a relevant excerpt  regarding Father John Sullivan:

[13] …  In March, 1960, the then Bishop of the plaintiff Diocese, Bishop Alexander Carter, received a report that Father Sullivan had sexually assaulted two boys in the parish.  Father Sullivan admitted to the misconduct, was reprimanded by the Bishop and sent from the parish for a period of one week to do penance.  In January, 1961, Bishop Carter received a further report from a father of three boys that Father Sullivan had sexually assaulted his three sons.

[14]           In light of the repeated sexual assaults against minors committed by Father John Sullivan, the plaintiff Diocese, under the direction of Bishop Carter, conducted a Diocesan Tribunal, “Processus Criminalus” essentially an internal trial within the Roman Catholic Church.  This “Diocesan Tribunal” was conducted according to church Canon Law, and, in particular, under Canon 2359, paragraph 2.  This trial within the church was conducted under an “Oath of Secrecy”.

[15]           Canon 2359, paragraph 2 of the Roman Catholic Church provides that:

“Clerics in sacred orders guilty of offences against the sixth commandment with minors, under the age of sixteen, be it adultery, rape, bestiality, sodomy, incest with relatives in the first degree of consanguinity or affinity, are to be suspended, declared infamous, deprived of all offices, benefices, dignities or functions, if they have any, and, when cases are particularly grave, deposed.”

[16]           The records produced by the plaintiff with respect to the internal trial conducted by the Diocese in accordance with Canon Law, indicate that Father Sullivan was found guilty of the offence under Canon 2359, paragraph 2, referred to above.

[17]           Father John Sullivan was deposed but later returned to the Diocese in 1964 with the permission of the Bishop and resumed the duties of a parish priest.  Father John Sullivan continued assaulting boys in the Diocese over the next 15 years until  he was ordered to leave the Diocese by the Bishop in or about 1979.  Ultimately, Father John Sullivan was charged under the Criminal Code of Canada and convicted of sexual assaults he committed as a priest throughout the Diocese in the period between 1958 and 1979.

[18]           The Diocese did not report the misconduct of Father John Sullivan either to the police or the Children’s Aid Society at the time the Diocese learned of Father Sullivan’s activities in or around 1960.

And there it is.

Bishop Alexander Carter knew.  He knew!   As far back as early 1960, Bishop Alexander Carter – and of course by March 1961 definitely members of the diocesan tribunal and other clergy –   knew!  For most of 29 years that man – this wolf in sheep’s clothing, a child molester – was permitted to hear confessions, offer up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and continue to prey on innocent young boys.

Bishop Alexander Carter

By way of a little background here, Bishop Alexander Carter was one of the influential  Gang of Five, a group of Canadian bishops who, as I once said elsewhere,  were fast friends who wielded an inordinate influence  upon their fellow Canadian bishops and hence upon the face of Roman Catholicism in Canada and indeed upon the face of the nation period.  Some sources occasionally describe one or the other of the gang as “conservative” but in truth back in the 60s in an age when conservative was the norm, to a bishop each was liberal in his outlook and all five were ‘on the cutting edge’ as advocates for change both within the Church and in society.  In moral issues where they did not overtly advocate for change they covertly tolerated and/or condoned with silence. (The Gang of Five were:  Bishops Philip Pocock, George Flahiff, Joseph Aurele Plourde and the Carter brothers, Alexander and Emmett – Emmett Carter would become the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto archdiocese)

Bishop Alexander Carter – and others – knew that Carter was a sexual predator, and, what did he/they do?  Nothing!  Well, no, not really nothing.  In truth, the bishop (s) enabled Sullivan.  It was, after all, thanks to Carter that Sullivan was permitted to continue to masquerade as a priest and continue his sacrilegious romp from one sanctuary to another,  and, yes, it was thanks to the bishop (s)  that parents throughout the diocese were  wilfully deceived, children were wilfully placed at risk, – and Sullivan was free to rape the souls of countless other young boys. Sad to say, and I would suggest, not surprisingly, Sullivan did just that. Until 1979!

Incidentally, we have no idea where he was when he was “deposed” in 1961.  I think that should read “suspended”?  I’ll come back to that later, but for now the question is:  Where was this child molester between 1961 and 1964 when he ” resumed the duties of a parish priest”?  Was he back in Montreal with family?  Did one single soul know that he was a serial child molester?

Anyway, by 1964, Sullivan was back in the diocese, presumably tending to  the souls and salvation of unwitting and trusting Catholics.

Fifteen years later, Sullivan was gone.


What happened in 1979?  Did someone vow to blow the whistle if Father Sullivan was not removed?  Did ‘the diocese’ promise that Sullivan would not be permitted to function as a priest any more?    I’m inclined to think that something of that nature happened.  The lid was about to blow.

Time to recycle?

Time lines

March 1960: Bishop Alexander Carter, learned that Father Sullivan had molested two boys: “Father Sullivan admitted to the misconduct, was reprimanded by the Bishop and sent from the parish for a period of one week to do penance”  Note:  ONE week penance, and then right back ‘on the job.’

January 1961:  ” Bishop Carter received a further report from a father of three boys that Father Sullivan had sexually assaulted his three sons.”

Despite knowledge that Father John Sullivan had sexually abused at least five boys, crimes had been committed and children were at risk, the bishop and his staff opted NOT to notify Children’s Aid Society and/or  police.

Around 1979:  “…he was ordered to leave the Diocese by the Bishop in or about 1979.”

Where did Sullivan wind up?  In Toronto.  The Archdiocese of Toronto.

And who was the Archbishop of Toronto?

Emmet Carter.

That’s right.  Emmet Carter.  C. A. R. T. E. R.   Emmett Carter.  Yes.  Bishop Alexander Carter’s brother.  A member of the Gang of Five.  In this instances the pair were not only buddies, they were brothers.


How many bishops knew that Father John Sullivan was a child molester?  How many enablers were there in the episcopacy?  How many were, or many have been, party to the cover-up?

Quite a few.  Here’s a list of those who definitively knew or may have known:

Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie

Bishop Alexander Carter (Sault Ste. Marie):  the bishop who knew in 1960 and 1961.  see above.

Bishop Gérard Dionne (Sault Ste. Marie):   Bishop Gérard  Dionne was Auxiliary Bishop from January 1975 to November 1983.  He too was Vicar General, at the same time as Bishop Pappin.  In his capacity as Vicar General I believe  it is virtually impossible that he did not know and did not have input into quietly recycling the predatory Sullivan off to Toronto.  He was installed as Bishop of Edmundston, New Brunswick January 1985.

Bishop Bernard Pappin (Sault Ste. Marie):  Bishop Bernard Francis Pappin was Auxiliary Bishop from January  1975 to  Aug 1998.  What role, if any, did Pappin play in enabling this child molester and the cover-up?  Bishop Pappin was Vicar General.  In his capacity as Vicar General I believe  it is virtually impossible that he did not know and did not have input into quietly recycling the predatory Sullivan off to Toronto.  That aside, it seems that, according to the 1959 Church directory, he was a notary in the diocese – that would have been a canon lawyer.  (In those days priests who were involved with diocesan  tribunals did not necessarily have degrees in Canon Law)  Anyway,  I am sure that Bishop Pappin would have been involved in the 1961 tribunal.

 The principal Co-Consecrators at his 1975 consecration as auxiliary bishop were Bishops Emmett Carter (then London, Ontario) and  Adolphe Proulx (then Hull, Quebec).

Bishop Marcel Gervais (Sault Ste. Marie):  By June 1985, when  Marcel André J. Gervais  was installed as bishop of the Sault, Father Sullivan had been recycled right out of the diocese and given safe haven by Toronto’s Archbishop Emmett Cardinal  Carter .  But, Sullivan was still very much incardinated in the  Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Marcel Gervais was installed as Archbishop of Ottawa in the Fall of 1989, around the time that Father Sullivan was arrested.  What role, if any, did then Bishop Gervais play in enabling this known clerical molester? (Archbishop Gervais retired in 2007)

Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe (Sault Ste. Marie) :  Jean-Louis Plouffe, formerly of Ottawa, Ontario,  was installed as Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie in December 1989. Bishop Plouffe was bishop throughout the Sullivan sex abuse trial. Bishop Plouffe was in charge for the nearly three full years it took Sullivan to enter a guilty plea to 32 offenses involving 13 altar boys.  He was in charge when Sullivan headed off to Montreal to live with his, Sullivan’s, sister.

Did Plouffe give the Archdiocese of Montreal a heads up that this serial clerical molester had taken up domicile in the archdiocese?

Archdiocese of Toronto

Archbishop Emmett Carter (Toronto):  We don’t know exactly when Father Sullivan was recycled into Toronto,. If it was before June 1979 then it was when Emmett Carter was Archbishop of Toronto.  If it was after June 1979, Emmett Carter was Cardinal, and hence was  the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto.

Really, it makes little difference does it?  The bottom line is that Archbishop Emmett Carter took Sullivan in.  He gave him safe haven.

As an aside, Carter has been known to be equally charitable for other predatory clergy. Right off the bat I can think of Fathers Barry Glendinning, Ronald Kelly  and Gary Hoskins.  Archbishop Emmett Carter plunked all three into parishes and said not a word about their dastardly deeds or convictions.  Not a boo.

Bishop Philip Francis Pocock (Toronto)  Bishop Philip Francis Pocock was Archbishop of  Toronto from 1971 to his resignation in April 1978.  After his resignation he served as Pastor at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Brampton, Ontario.  Like the Carter brothers, he was a member of the Gang of Five. He was also attained a doctorate in Canon Law in Rome.  I am hard pressed to  believe that as a member of the Gang of Five he was not privy to the antics involved in relocating and enabling Father John Sullivan.

Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic (Toronto):  Bishop Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic was already  auxiliary bishop in the Toronto Archdiocese when Father Sullivan was given safe haven by Archbsihop Emmett Carter.  Ambrozic was Coadjutor Archbishop from 1986 to March 1990 when he succeeded Archbishop Cardinal Emmett Carter.  What role if any, did Archbishop Ambrozic play in enabling this known clerical molester?

Bishop Thomas Benjamin Fulton (Toronto):  Bishop Thomas Benjamin Fulton was also already an auxiliary bishop when Father Sullivan landed in Toronto.  Bishop Fulton was a Toronto auxiliary until August  1978 when he was installed as Bishop of St. Catharine’s,  Ontario. That was shortly before Sullivan was arrested at Mary Lake Monastery for the crimes he perpetrated upon young in the Sault Diocese.  What role if any, did Bishop Fulton play in enabling this known clerical molester?

So, how many bishops knew?  Perhaps a better question would be, how many did not? I suppose we could add Bishop Adolphe Proulx to that list too.  True, he was not a bishop when he found out, but he later became a bishop, and he most certainly knew!

Could there be a more a cunning, scandalous, evil and depraved betrayal of the flock by the shepherds?  I am at a loss for words.

The tribunal

Now, jump ahead a couple of paras to the following regarding the tribunal which found Sullivan guilty.  Here is the relevant text:

[24]           Father John Sullivan was dealt with by Bishop Carter under the 1917 P10 – Benedictine Code of Canon Law (“1917 Code”).  Pope Benedict XV issued an Apostolic Constitution dated May 27, 1917 which set out the 1917 Code, which are Canon Law Provisions Regarding the Conduct of Priests.  The “1917 Code” includes Canon 2359, which was followed and referenced in the Canonical Trial of Father John Sullivan.

[25]           It is clear that Father John Sullivan was dealt with by the Roman Catholic Church according to the tenants of Canon Law.  As indicated in the concluding paragraphs of the “Written Brief of the Promotor Justitiae” dated January 16, 1961, the written decision of the church tribunal dealing with the Father John Sullivan case:

“The law is clear in the case.  “Clerics in sacred orders guilty of offences against the sixth commandment with minors, under the age of sixteen, be it adultery, rape, bestiality, sodomy, incest with relatives in the first degree of consanguinity or affinity, are to be suspended, declared infamous, deprived of all offices, benefices, dignities or functions, if they have any, and, when cases are particularly grave, DEPOSED.” Can. 2359, par. 2.C.J.C.

There is a clear and definite relation between the crimes committed and the prescriptions of Canon Law.  Rev. John E. Sullivan has been suspended, and informed of the fact, according to the norms of law.

It is not necessary to describe at length the gravity of the offense.  The testimony given by trustworthy witnesses and the credibility of the lay persons involved justified the constitution of the Criminal Tribunal to hear and judge the case.

Conclusion.  I therefore, respectfully submit that this Venerable tribunal, to fulfill the prescriptions of the Sacred Canons, to preserve the dignity of the priesthood, to stop the danger of perversion and loss of faith of young people, to the common good of Church, return a verdict in the affirmative.  Signed:  (Very Rev.) Adolphe Proulx – Promotor Justitiae.”

First, note that “Rev. John E. Sullivan has been suspended.”   Suspended.  There was an option to depose.  It was not exercised.  Why not?

Next, note the signature:   Father Adolphe Proulx.

Yes, that’s him.  That is one and the same Adolphe Proulx who, in 1967,  became Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria (later Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario. )  Bishop Proulx retained that  position  until 1974, at which time  he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Hull, Quebec (now Gatineau-Hull) , a little over an hour’s drive up the road and across the Ottawa river. .

Back in his home diocese of the Sault Proulx was mentored by Bishop Alexander Carter himself.  Indeed, Carter took Proulx under wing, and shipped him off to Rome to study Canon Law.

So, there he is in 1961, then Father Adolphe Proulx determining that Father Sullivan, a priest who was known to have molested at least seven boys, issuing an order that the molester be “suspended.”  That was 1961.

A mere three – perhaps four? – years later,  Sullivan was back!

In 1964 Bishop Alexander Carter allowed this predator back into the diocese!   The bishop set the wolf loose amidst the flock.

Yes, Father Adolphe Proulx was still there, still heading up what then comprised the diocesan tribunal. In fact, in 1967 Proulx is listed as heading the tribunal, and Msgr. Bernard Pappin was the defender of the bond, and who do you suppose was listed as notary?  Yes, believe it or not, Father John Sullivan!    So, not only was Sullivan unleashed upon the unwitting faithful in the diocese, he was, in addition, awarded a sort of role of honour within the diocese.

Proulx was installed as Bishop of Alexandria in 1967, but in 1968-69  Sullivan and Pappin are still shown holding the same duties.  Ditto 1971-1972.  I didn’t check beyond that.  Suffice here I think to understand that the bishop and others saw no fault in entrusting the law of the Church to a man who had violated that law time and time again.

How sick is this?

Bishop Adolphe Proulx

When Adolphe Proulx became the Bishop of Alexandria (Alexandria-Cornwall) – he was followed by a young layman, Gilles Deslaurier.

Deslaurier served as Proulx’ secretary and Master of Ceremonies.  He was later (1970) ordained to the priesthood.  It has long been said from a multitude of sources that there  was a sexual relationship between the pair.

In 1986 Deslaurier entered a guilty plea to charges related to the sexual abuse of young boys in the Alexandria Diocese.

Deslaurier received two years probation!   Proulx, who by then was Bishop in the Gatineu-Hull Diocese in Quebec, had suggested to the judge that he, Proulx,  would keep an eye on Proulx, and the  judge presumably determined that the offer “indicates a confidence he[Proulx]  has in the future of this person [Deslaurier].”   Hence it was that Deslaurier reported to a probation office and Bishop Proulx!!

In 1997 there were reports that Deslaurier, by then recycled and serving in St. Adele, Quebec,  was under investigation for sex allegations in St. Adele.

Proulx died in July 1987.  He was 59-years-old.  There has long been talk from many different sources in the dioceses of Ottawa, Hull and Alexandria-Cornwall that Proulx was castrated, certain body parts were in his mouth, and he was found dead, face down in a few inches of water at his sister’s cottage.


Sullivan was finally charged in 1989.  Thanks to the courage of several victims, he was charged.  It took him nearly three years to finally enter a guilty plea a to 32 offenses involving 13 altar boys.  There was no thought of the torture he was putting his victims through for those many months and years.   But, he did plead guilty.  He was sentenced to a paltry two years and six months. I don’t know how much time he actually served. (the charges spanned from 1958 to 1979. – He was molesting from the year he ordained!)

I suppose it was after his release from jail that he headed to  Montreal.  It has been reported that he went to live with his sister.

There has been little news of his years in Montreal.  We know that while he was in Montreal further charges were laid  – in June 2012, and two more charges in Fall of 2012.  Those never got to trial.  That was a case of one court date after the other after the other for years.

There was also a lawsuit launched in 2010 by three brothers who were sexually abused by Sullivan.  It finally settled out of court, literally at the 11th  hour.

He died 27 March 2016.  I have heard that he was defrocked – am still trying to confirm if that is fact or fiction.

I also have some interesting news regarding his years in Montreal.  I shall get this posted now and add the Montreal years later.  It is short, but I just do want to get this posted now,

Enough for now,



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4 Responses to Connecting the dots

  1. PJ says:

    Sylvia, thank you so much for posting all this! I have had to sit silently on the sidelines from 2010 until now for this to be made public. The coverups are shameful and the more I found out, the more angry and depressed I became. The work by our lawyer Rob Talach was key to our success…very few other lawyers have the experience and knowledge of how that church manipulates the victims again and again in the courts. They fought tooth and nail to keep us from finally having justice done. I vowed years ago while watching the Mount Cashel Inquiry that if I could be as brave as those victims were on the stand, that I too would push back against the pervert and that church. Yes, I was one of the 13 victims that helped put him in jail in 1989 and it took until 2010 for me to believe I was well enough to go all the way to teach that church that their ways are wrong. That pervert is dead and so are all the bishops that protected him at the cost of our innocence stolen. I am trying to move forward now that our battle is over but I pray that as many other victims of his perversion, and those of other pervert collars can muster the courage to step forward, to do so. The absolute only language that church understands is their love of money and it appears that the only way to force them to change their depraved ways is to hit them again and again in their coffers. If only all the parishioners could be told about how much of their collection money is going to defend the perverts, they might stop giving until the church and it’s toothless leader finally do the right things. Thank you to Sylvia, Rob Talach, and all the followers of this website who have supported me and my brothers in our quest for justice! It will not be forgotten.

  2. Leona says:

    Thank you so much for this, Sylvia! This information needs to be made more public. Thank you as well to PJ and all the other survivors who persevered through what I’m sure was a gruelling process to help bring truth to light. You are heroes!

  3. Sylvia says:

    Thank you PJ. Thank you to you and all the others who had the courage come forward. It’s not a pretty picture that we see, but it is essential that the truth is revealed. Thank you! Thanks to everyone of you.

    As I worked along trying to put the pieces together, and connecting the dots, I thought of you PJ, and of all the boys who were molested. There was many a time I had to take a break – just walk away from the computer in sheer disgust.

    Thank you PJ. I know it’s been a been a difficult journey, but, you made it through 🙂 I pray that you and I and all who follow this site will be around to see the day when Church leaders finally do the right thing, and I pray that day comes sooner than later. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  4. Vox Cantoris says:

    Linking on Vox Cantoris!

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