Kneale: Father James Kneale

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James Kneale (Father James Kneale)

Priest, Diocese of St. Catharine’s Ontario.  Convert to the Catholic faith. Ordained 1980. GUILTY 1999.  

Fathers Kneale,  John Knight and  Donald Grecco were known within the Diocese of St. Catharines to be good friends.  Knight, a priest from the St. Catharines Diocese who became Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto in 1992, was quietly removed from public ministry without explantion following unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct in 2000. Grecco, who left the priesthood to marry sometime in the early 2000s, was convicted in 2010 on charges related to sex abuse of young boys.

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The following dates and information are drawn from available Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD), media (M) and personal contacts (PC). 

1980: Ordained (CCCD)

1985:  address Holy Rosary Church, Thorold, Ontario (Pastor, Father J. D. Mazerolle) (CCCD)

sexually abused John Caruso.  Abuse reported to Bishop Thomas Fulton (M)

1988:  Seven months in Southdown. (M)

1991, 1992, 1993, 1994:  address Star of the Sea, St. Catharine’s (Pastor Father P. Rowe) (CCCD) According to media reports, after his release from Southdown seved as chaplain at a hospital. (M)

1994:  according to media, returned to parish ministry – assigned to Our Lady of the Scapular parish in  Niagara Falls, Ontario (M)

1995, 1996, 1997:  address Our Lady of the Scapular, Niagara Falls, ON (Pastor Father Peter Rowe) (CCCD)

July 1997:  Charged with several counts related to sexual abuse/assault of two teenage boys(16-year-old and 19-year-old)  between 1982 and 1985 (M). 

August 1999:  At trial initially pleaded NOT guilty to one charge of indecent assault involving a 19-year-old man from St. Catharines and five sexual assault charges related to a Fort Erie boy. Three days into his trial Kneale pleaded GUILTY  to one count of sexual assault  – the Crown withdrew the other charges.

 2001:  Taken in to Archdiocese of Calgary by Bishop Fred Henry (a director at Southdown).  Assigned to St. Patrick’s Church in southwest Calgary – pastoral duties shared with Father Keith Sorge)  (M & CCCD)

January 2002:  Parishioners learn that their parish priest is a convicted sexual predator.  Chaos erupts.  Initially Henry refuses to remove Kneale – word is that when parishioners spoke through the collection plate Kneal was removed. He returned, initially at least, to the Diocese of St. Catharine’s

July 2002:  After a lawsuit was filed the Diocese of St. Catharine’s countersued alleging the victim’s mother and father  “knew or should have known” about the assaults and mitigated the damage to their son by getting him counselling and treatment.

2010:  Address for Diocesan Centre, St. Catharine’s, Ontario.  According to media reports Father Kneale repeatedly lobbied Bishop James Wingle to have his priestly faculties restored.  Wingle refused.   There are allegedly a group of clergy who support Kneale’s attempts to resume finctioning as a priest. 

(when Don Grecco breached his residency requirements pending sentencing he was found to be living at the residence of Father Kneale)

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Media coverage related to the Father James Kneale scandal

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1997-1999:  “Priest guilty:  Father James Kneale admits sexual assault” & other trial-related articles

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Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandals  

MacLean’s 

22 July 2002 

It’s a face that has played host to a lot of fists. John Caruso’s nose is crooked, there are reminders of past stitches around the corners of his eyes, and his forehead has as many bumps as a corduroy road. Battle scars from his two seasons as a Junior B tough guy, plus the years of rage- and alcohol-fuelled bar brawls that followed. Sitting in a quiet corner of a Toronto restaurant, he rolls up a sleeve to show the evidence of the deeper fight he’s been waging, the one that underlies all his anger. “And of course, everyone has one of the these,” he deadpans, nodding towards the ugly pink scar just below the elbow. “All told, I’ve tried to kill myself at least 12 times.” 

Caruso is articulate about the depths of his unhappiness. There was the time he shut the garage door and left the car running. The bottles of pills he swallowed. The day he took the boat far out into Lake Erie and tried to work up the gumption to swim away. “For every reason that everyone else is glad to be alive, I’m not,” says the 33-year-old collections manager for a credit card company. “I have problems at work. I’ve had a new best friend every year for the past 18 years. Relationships are impossible. I have a girlfriend now, but a month from now, I won’t have her.” And he knows just who he blames for his troubles – the Catholic priest who sexually assaulted him around the time of his 16th birthday, and the Church that kept his abuser sheltered for so many years. 

In the avalanche of coverage the U.S. media has been according revelations of scandal and perfidy in Catholic dioceses across their country, there’s a line about Canada that often crops up: American Catholics could have learned a thing or two from how their cousins to the north dealt with claims, more than a decade ago, of widespread sexual abuse at residential schools and orphanages. The stories talk about the tough guidelines the Canadian Catholic bishops unveiled in 1992 – calling for “responding fairly and openly” to all allegations, stressing the need to “respect” the jurisdiction of outside authorities, and recommending counselling and compassion for the victims. There’s an inference that Canadian Catholics have put their troubles behind them. 

But run those notions past advocates and lawyers representing the thousands of Canadians who say they too have been victimized by Catholic priests, and the response you get tends toward hollow laughter. From Pain to Hope, the Church’s showcase handbook for dealing with abuse and abusers, has turned out to be mostly show, they say. “If there’s a way in which the Canadian Church is better than the American Church, it’s in getting away with the crime,” says David Gagnon, national director of SNAP-Canada, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests. “The Church treats victims with contempt and malice.” Gagnon, who lives in Ottawa, says victims look at the American Church’s steps toward a national “zero tolerance” policy on sexual abusers and wonder why allegations, and even criminal convictions for sexual misconduct, seem to be taken so lightly in Canada. “They recycle these guys over and over again,” Gagnon says of the Canadian Church’s policy of “reintegrating” fallen priests back into active ministry after treatment. “It’s like asking an alcoholic to work at a liquor store.” 

The depth of the abuse problem facing the Catholic Church in this country is hard to sound. In recent months, there has been a spate of new allegations made against priests in Canada, but unlike the United States, where public and media interest is on the boil, here few of the cases have received widespread attention. Among them:

  • Joseph Lang, a Terrace, B.C., priest placed on “administrative leave” in April. Father Lang faces allegations of sexual activity with a minor dating back to his time as a parish priest in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1980s.

 

  • Douglas Stamp, a Hamilton priest forced to step down from his job as a hospital chaplain this spring when a parishioner brought to light his 1997 conviction for indecently assaulting two 12-year-old boys in Peterborough, Ont.

 

  • Hugh Vincent MacDonald, a retired Ontario priest, now faces multiple allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the early 1970s, when he was in the Cape Breton community of New Waterford. The accusations surfaced after David Martin, a Vancouver Island contractor, committed suicide in April, leaving behind a note detailing his experiences with MacDonald. The 80-year-old faced similar charges 15 years ago, but those were dismissed. A second priest from Cape Breton is also under investigation.

 

  • Martin Houston, a Carman, Man., priest, resigned from his parish in June after media reports about his abusive past as a teacher at an Oblate-run residential school in the 1960s. Houston had served a decade in prison for sexual abuse and indecent assault involving young boys before he was ordained.

 

  • Matthew Berko, a Ukrainian Catholic priest, stepped down from his parish in Florida after revelations that he had been convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old female parishioner in Mississauga, Ont., in 1985.

 

  • Paul Desilets, a retired Quebec priest, has been indicted on 27 counts of indecent assault and battery dating back to his time as a parish priest in Bellingham, Mass., between 1978 and 1984. State prosecutors seek his extradition.

 It’s impossible to say just how many more Canadian priests are facing allegations of abuse, because the only people with reliable statistics on the problem – the bishops in charge of the country’s 71 dioceses – aren’t sharing that information with the public or even central Church authorities. “The difficulty is that every diocese is kind of a land unto itself,” says Nancy Mayer, a Toronto social worker who counsels abuse victims. From Pain to Hope offers suggestions on how to deal with allegations of abuse, she says, which each Canadian bishop is free to follow or ignore. The fact that it takes most abuse victims years, sometimes decades, to build up the confidence and courage to report their childhood experiences to authorities compounds the problem. The Church tends to regard these “historical” claims with deep suspicion, says Mayer, and the chances of a successful criminal prosecution dim with each passing year. 

When civil claims for apologies, counselling and compensation are met, it’s often in exchange for silence. Church lawyers regularly demand sweeping “gag” clauses that impose financial penalties if victims disclose any information about their experiences or settlement. Mayer herself has personal experience with abuse by clergy, but is prevented from publicly discussing it by legal agreement. 

Those who are able to talk about their compensation struggles with Catholic dioceses and their insurers say the experience was in many ways worse than the abuse. Elizabeth McKenna spent 20 days on the witness stand in a Toronto courtroom in the spring of 2000, before the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and their insurers finally agreed to settle a $3-million lawsuit she had pursued for a decade. “They really put the gloves on,” says McKenna. “I’ll never forget one of the lawyer’s questions: ‘Do you have an orgasm when you masturbate?’ ” In the run-up to trial, she says, high school acquaintances were approached by private investigators seeking information about her past. 

McKenna was a devoutly religious 17-year-old who wanted to become a nun when her parish priest, Father Francis Reed, initiated a sexual relationship with her. The encounters continued for years, even as a confused McKenna plunged into depression and self-destructive behaviour – today, at age 55, her arms are covered with white scars from countless cigarette burns and knife cuts. Ultimately McKenna, who had Reed criminally charged (although the case did not go to trial when the crown would not proceed with prosecution), received an undisclosed financial settlement, as well as a tepid written apology from Sault Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe for the priest’s “wrongful conduct.” Father Reed continues to serve three parishes in northern Ontario. 

Jack Lavers, a St. John’s lawyer who has been involved in dozens of abuse claims in Newfoundland and Labrador, says foot-dragging and hardball legal tactics are the norm, not the exception, when you challenge the Catholic Church in Canada. “It takes five to seven years to deal with one of these cases,” says Lavers. “They go through all the legal steps and put up all the defences they possibly can.” The lawyer says he can recall only one instance when the Church offered to pay for a session of psychological counselling for a victim, as is recommended in From Pain to Hope, though he routinely makes such requests. 

John Caruso’s story seems to highlight the worst aspects of the challenges facing Catholics in Canada, and the way the Church responds to them. His family moved to Fort Erie, Ont., in 1982, just after he turned 13. Devout Catholics – Caruso’s dad is Sicilian, his mother, French Canadian – they quickly befriended the parish priest, Father James Kneale, often inviting him home for dinner. Caruso had grown up around priests, but Kneale was different. He was young and cool, unapologetic about cursing in front of the kids, and he liked to hang out with members of the youth group. From the very beginning, Kneale took a great interest in Caruso’s spiritual and academic development, to his parents’ delight. “He was a really good friend to me,” Caruso recalls with a rueful shake of his head. “He was always my biggest fan. He would boost my ego. My parents were pleased that I was getting guidance. For their son to become a priest would have been a great joy.” 

Caruso started to spend more and more time alone with Kneale, sometimes going to the rectory for video parties and staying overnight. The priest would occasionally provide him with alcohol, timing him as he chugged glasses of wine. Around the time of Caruso’s 16th birthday in 1985, Kneale – who by that time had been transferred to a parish in Thorold, a half-hour away – asked Caruso to stop by his house so he could give him his present. He gave him a gift most teens would kill for – the keys to his car, telling him to treat the Volvo as his own vehicle. Kneale then drove Caruso and a friend to a high school party, stopping on the way to buy them a 26-ounce bottle of vodka. 

The priest’s suggestion that Caruso return to the rectory after the party, to sleep off the effects of the vodka away from his parents, seemed in keeping with his fun-guy persona. “I got really drunk,” says Caruso. “When I got back to his house I went to the bathroom and vomited. That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in the middle of the night and he was performing fellatio on me.” 

Confused and consumed with guilt, Caruso waited a month before he finally told his dad, Joseph, about the assault. Wanting to avoid a scandal (Caruso says his mother and siblings were unaware of what happened and remained friendly with the priest until he was criminally charged more than a decade later), his father approached Thomas Fulton, the bishop of St. Catharines, asking him to quietly deal with the problem. Kneale apologized to Caruso and his father, but he wasn’t sent for treatment until 1988. After seven months of therapy at a Toronto-area mental-health facility for priests, Kneale returned to active ministry, as a hospital chaplain in St. Catharines. By 1994, he was back to parish duties, at a church in Niagara Falls. 

Caruso initially thought he could put the incident behind him and, in keeping with Christianity’s teachings, forgive the man who had sinned against him. But the anger and turmoil were more than he could handle; they spewed out on the ice, at school, at home. Kneale kept in touch with Caruso, phoning him a few times a year, occasionally making arrangements to meet up for dinner. Somehow, the phone conversations always seemed to turn to sex, with the priest pressing Caruso for details of his adventures with girls at school. 

It was after one such conversation in 1997 that Caruso says disturbing, hazy memories started to surface. He began to fear that Kneale might have taken advantage of him on other occasions when he was drunk. (Caruso now believes Kneale drugged him, perhaps slipping Rohypnol – better known as the “date rape” drug – into the drinks he used to ply him with.) He confided in his brother, Joe, a provincial police officer, who advised John to bring charges against the priest. 

When Niagara Falls police raided Kneale’s apartment in the rectory that June, they found diaries containing the names of boys the priest had mentored, accompanied by check marks or plus signs. Detectives seized adult videos, gay porn magazines and pictures of nude and semi-nude young men, including some of Caruso. Another man, who alleges he was assaulted in 1983, came forward, and the priest was charged with six sex-related offences. 

Two years later, on the third day of his trial, Kneale pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault against Caruso (the other charges were withdrawn in exchange for the plea) and was sentenced to nine months of house arrest and 18 months probation. The charges and the sentence seemed little enough to the victim. By that point it was already more than a decade since Caruso had begun his long series of suicide attempts. Some were cries for help, other times he lost his nerve, once, after swallowing 90 sleeping pills, he had to have his heart restarted in a hospital emergency room. 

Last autumn Kneale was again returned to active ministry, this time in a Calgary parish. He was forced to resign in February after a parishioner who used to live in Ontario recognized him, and the story made its way into the local media. Fred Henry, the bishop of Calgary, publicly apologized for not consulting parishioners before hiring Kneale, but expressed sympathy for the plight of the priest. “I’m very saddened by the fact that someone such as Father Kneale has to wear a scarlet mark on his forehead for the rest of his life,” Henry said at the time of the resignation. “I think he has been treated unjustly.” 

Throughout the whole experience, says Caruso, the diocese of St. Catharines never once offered counselling or any other service to help him get over his trauma. He and his family are now suing Kneale, two former bishops and the diocese for $8.6 million in damages. Caruso and his lawyers claim Church officials knew or should have known that Kneale was preying on young men before the 1985 assault and did nothing to stop the priest, an allegation the Church has denied in a statement of defence. 

Kneale, who maintains that his sexual relationship with Caruso was consensual, refused a Maclean’s request for an interview, as did his lawyer and a representative for the diocese of St. Catharines. The priest, who is now back in southern Ontario, has launched a counterclaim against Caruso’s parents, insisting they are responsible for their son’s troubles because they failed to adequately care and provide for Caruso. Kneale also alleges that Joseph Caruso “assaulted” his own son on numerous occasions. The diocese, in a separate countersuit, goes further, saying Caruso’s mother and father “knew or should have known” about the assaults and mitigated the damage to their son by getting him counselling and treatment. 

Monsignor Peter Schonenbach, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, says the Canadian Church is proud of its record in dealing with the thorny issue of abuse by clergy, but admits that cases like Caruso’s show that there is still some distance to be travelled. “We have grown into a situation where we realize that we have to be very categoric on this issue,” says Schonenbach. “Zero tolerance seems to be what the public demands. Bishops now realize that they cannot simply say this person has paid their debt. The acceptance of people about this is simply not there.” 

Policy changes are in the works, he says, and will be debated this fall at a plenary meeting. Schonenbach says he believes a consensus is building among Canadian bishops for a more open approach to the problem. Information about alleged abusers will have to be shared, he says, and bishops will have to be prepared to give up some of their autonomy for a sexual abuse policy “that is law” rather than simply a guideline. Schonenbach says the Church has long been challenged by the darker impulses of the spirit and the problem of dealing with sin: “We’re always working against human frailties.” 

In the dark corner of the restaurant, John Caruso slowly twists a drinking straw around his index finger as he talks about his recovery. He’s in therapy and things are a little better these days, the anger more controlled, the despair mostly in check. (In the time between the interview and the story going to press, he will call back to say the latest girlfriend is gone – just as he predicted.) This day in the half-empty eatery, he almost breaks down a couple of times. “I know it’s not my fault. I know I’m not responsible for any part of it,” he says, more to himself than anyone else. The lawsuit isn’t about the money, it’s to “stop the bullshit, the lies.” To make someone, somewhere, accountable for what happened to him, and who knows how many other kids in Canada. “The Church doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything but the Almighty Dollar,” he says, pulling the plastic noose around his finger one notch tighter.

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 Breaking the silence: Bishop Henry speaks out on sex abuse.

Catholic New Times

June 02, 2002 

Blocki, Marta 

Not all silence is golden.

While some church and government officials have attempted to address the issue of the sex-abuse scandals that has rocked the Catholic Church in recent months, many have remained tight-lipped. Pope John Paul II finally broke the silence on March 21 — months after initial accusations have already surfaced; Bishop Gerald Wiesner of Prince George, B.C. has not returned CNT’s requests for an interview regarding Rev. Joseph Lang’s sudden withdrawal from his post as parish priest in Terrace, B.C. in April; and Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, Mass., whose reputation has been tarnished for failing to take action against a child-molesting priest, has not uttered a word on the subject either.

In a recent interview with CNT, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry has been more forthright on the issue.

Marta Blocki: What do you have to say about the recent influx of clergy sex-abuse cases?

Bishop Fred Henry: We’re dealing with a betrayal of trust and harming an innocent, young person — obviously that’s a most serious offense…. There’s not only a disillusionment and an alienation from the priest, but very frequently, the person walks away from God and the wound that’s inflicted is much more serious than any kind of physical wound because it’s invisible…. Sometimes these children or young adults are damaged in the very core of their being: their fundamental self-identity. It’s an extremely serious kind of offence.

Blocki: Has the media overblown this issue in their coverage or is it a serious problem in the Church?

Bishop Henry: There’s a bit of a media frenzy right now and one has to stand back, now and then, and try to distill some of the hysteria around the whole thing. (We) must take some very concrete steps to deal with and (to) address the problem as it develops. The few current cases that are surfacing right now have not been dealt with well in the past; (we are) dealing with cases now that happened 10, 15, 20 years ago….

The media don’t always make the distinction between a sexual offence and pedophilia, they simply push the same button and it’s supposed to cover everyone…. When a trust is betrayed, there is indication from these people that they are still suffering…. It’s therapeutic for (the victims) to talk about their pain and (to) get it out. Hopefully they will be receiving some justice along with an apology from the church officials who were involved in the former cover-up.

I had dealt with a priest in Calgary who had not offended for 16 years (and) was never diagnosed as a pedophile…. His sexual transgression, which he never denied, resulted from psycho-sexual immaturity (and other factors). He went through a treatment program and the prognosis was healthy (although) he would not be deemed acceptable to serve in most parishes.

Blocki: How should the perpetrators be dealt with?

Bishop Henry: Anybody who would even think of giving a pedophile a pastoral assignment is right off the mark — there is no way you could do that. There is no greater priority than ensuring the protection of children. Children can never be put in a situation where you run the risk of them being violated or harmed. There has to be a strong pastoral principle that you follow.

Blocki: What happened in the situation with Fr. James Kneale?

Bishop Henry: Fr. Kneale had written me a letter (and) was very forthright (in) releasing the psychological reports from his treatment…. I launched my own investigation, contacted bishops, asked for letters of reference, background profile checks and found (that) he was not dangerous to anyone. He wanted to return to pastoral ministry.

One step that I didn’t make that I should have made was to consult the people to see whether they would accept this man and give him a chance. I didn’t know if people would be open to doing so had they known the details of his past.

I was trying to balance the person’s right to know and need to know vs. the person’s right to their good name. When someone hasn’t offended for 16 years, has paid his debt to society and when the best clinical and psychological evidence says he is not a risk to anyone, what more can you ask for?”

This whole situation was framed around what was taking place in Boston…. Local media here started printing articles from Boston and San Francisco that had nothing to do with the situation here.

I held a media conference and apologized (for) my mistake in not consulting (the people); I explained the process and held an open-forum information session (where) about 400 (people) showed. There was a lot of emotion in the room; there was a great number of people who were prepared to take Fr. Kneale back, but there were also a lot of people who said `absolutely not.’ I guess about 60 per cent (said they) would take him back (and about) 40 per cent (said they) wouldn’t. (Fr. Kneale) has returned to the diocese of St. Catherine’s and has retired.

The whole phenomenon of incest and family violence we really don’t know how pervasive of extensive that sort of thing is…. We know more about it today than we did when I was growing up, just as we know much more now about pedophilia than (we did) 20 years ago…. We thought (then) it would be enough to have a pedophile repented, (to have them) go through a spiritual discipline and reassign them to another parish. We now recognize that it is extraordinarily difficult to rehabilitate a true pedophile. Consequently, some of the situations we are judging now in hindsight with the knowledge (that) we have currently. (This), of course, leads to some imbalance in terms of judgement.

Blocki: Do you think the Church will be able to recover from such a blow?

Bishop Henry: I would by no means want to suggest that pedophilia is a problem of the Church and only the Church — it’s a societal problem. The Church will be here until the end of time … we have Christ’s promise on that, and that’s despite our sinfulness and our stupidity.

Obviously the Church is hurt by this. Ninety-nine per cent of the priests who never violated their vows are all cast under suspicion; they are also victims of anger and disillusionment as are the people. When the story is retold, over and over again, we begin to think it’s a daily occurrence, but it’s not. Most people are prepared to forgive…. (We) must put in place a process to deal with an allegation when it is made: no cover-ups. We must deal with (the issue) responsibly, thoroughly and objectively.

Transparency is the operative word: Follow child welfare acts, offer victims counselling support, improve seminary training and the screening process, provide workshops on sexuality and celibacy…. (People want to know) you’re doing something and not simply trying to cover the phenomenon up. 

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 Priestly sins of the past: Homosexual scandals are slowly forcing the Catholic Church to face reality  

Alberta Report

March 18 , 2002  

Catholics could be forgiven or feeling themselves under an unusually heavy Lenten burden this year, as sexual-abuse allegations, disclosures and settlements reverberate from Calgary to Boston, and from Ireland to Arizona, Most attention has been on the phenomenon of “pedophile priests.” A growing number of observers, however, think the problem is better understood as one of ordinary homosexuality running unchecked among the clergy. Most of the victims are underage teen youths, not small children.

James Kneale, 46, recently and briefly of Calgary, is a case in point. In 1985, five years out of St. Augustine’s Seminary in Scarborough, he was the pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Thorold in southwest Ontario. One night he bought liquor for a 16-year-old parish altar boy named John Caruso, who soon got drunk and passed out. When he came to, still in a drunken stupor, he found the priest fellating him.

Mr. Caruso apparently did nothing afterward except try to forget it happened. But in 1997, 12 years later, he got a call from Kneale asking if he still liked oral sex. He felt sick. But, sure enough, the priest called back and Mr. Caruso taped the whole conversation. When police raided the priest’s Niagara Falls apartment they found photos he had taken during the 1985 crime, along with a stash of homosexual porn and a diary with names of other boys checked off. They brought six charges involving two male youths (the other slightly older than Mr. Caruso, in 1983), but these were pleaded down to one charge of sexual assault. Kneale was sentenced in 1999 to nine months’ house arrest at his mother’s home, and 18 months’ concurrent probation. He and the Church are facing lawsuits from both men totalling $12.8 million.

The Church was aware of Kneale’s problems at least as early as 1988, when he spent seven months at Southdown, a Church institution for dysfunctional clergy north of Toronto. After he emerged he became a hospital chaplain, but in 1994 back he went to parish duty in Niagara Falls; and three years later he was sizing up his earlier victims.

One of Southdown’s directors is Calgary Bishop Fred Henry. To give Kneale a fresh start in 2001, he assigned him to St. Patrick’s Church in Calgary’s southwest. In January fury erupted when someone in the congregation recognized him. Last month Kneale (after vacationing in Europe) returned to Niagara in disgrace and Bishop Henry publicly apologized for not apprising parishioners of the priest’s past. He said that Kneale had kept a “clean track record” since 1985, and remarked, “I am very saddened by the fact that someone such as Father Kneale has to wear a scarlet mark on his forehead for the rest of his life. I think he has been treated unjustly.”

This might seem an odd way to describe a priest who was busted cruising for gay sex only five years ago, and living with porn and trophies of past conquests. However, according to the November 2000 cover story in the prominent U.S. magazine Catholic World Report, it is altogether typical wishful thinking by senior clergy.

According to its author, Paul Shaughnessy, a military chaplain now serving on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, homosexual clergy operate largely unchecked within many U.S. dioceses and seminaries. To avoid the terrifying charge of “homophobia,” he says most bishops turn a blind eye to gay misbehaviour; they are then too compromised to start rooting it out later, for fear of their sins of omission being exposed publicly by angry gay priests.

This silence/denial pattern appears to have run itself out in Boston, when defrocked Boston priest John Geoghan was sentenced to nine to 10 years in jail for fondling a boy a decade ago. Called “the most notorious accused pedophile priest in American history,” Geoghan is named in 90 sex-abuse lawsuits. The diocese had already settled 50 previous suits against him, for more than US$10 million.

Boston’s Bernard Cardinal Law has now admitted he knew about Geoghan’s crimes for nearly 20 years, and simply shuffled him from church to unsuspecting church. Two weeks ago, as furor arose over church secrecy, Cardinal Law abruptly named 80 Boston-area priests accused of abuse over the last 40 years.

Liberal Catholics usually blame such “black-collar crimes” on Catholicism’s mandatory celibacy and a “patriarchal” all-male priesthood. Stephen Brady, president of Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), calls this “ludicrous.” Roman Catholic Faithful is “dedicated to promoting orthodox Catholic teaching and fighting heterodoxy and corruption within the Catholic hierarchy.” The conservative Illinois group investigates hair-raising stories of priests taking “gay cruises” and trading oral sex tips in Internet chat rooms.

Mr. Brady says homosexuality is the real problem. Catholic seminaries “should weed out homosexually inclined candidates. I know this position is controversial, but most pedophiles are homosexual. God loves homosexuals. That said, they shouldn’t be priests.” The hierarchy covers up sex-abuse cases because some bishops have broken their own vows of celibacy, Mr. Brady adds. He points to his own former bishop, Daniel Ryan, who resigned following revelations he had had sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Fr. Tom Lynch, who teaches at St. Augustine’s Seminary, agrees that the brunt of the problem consists of standard homosexual youth-obsession, rather than clinical pedophilia. “But let’s not forget,” he adds, “that the very large majority of Canada’s 11,000 Catholic priests are chaste, celibate and faithful.” Contrary to modem assumptions, he adds, it is perfectly possible to lead a continent life quite happily, and many single and widowed people, not just priests, actually do so. The 96 seminarians at St. Augustine’s, he says, have led a completely celibate life for at least two years before enrolling. And while some may feel homosexual impulses, they do not yield to them.

Two things are driving reforms, says Fr. Lynch. One is the realization among bishops that they can no longer hide sexual scandals, or wish them away. “I tell the men here that Canada is too small for them to lead a double life, so don’t even try,” he relates. “A big-city parish priest is probably known to 50,000 people. Even in Toronto, that’s a lot.” The other factor is the ever-tougher moral line coming from the Vatican; for example, a priest may now be “laicized” (defrocked) without his consent, a change only one year old.

The latter half of the 20th century turned the old patterns and routines of the priesthood upside down, says Fr. Lynch. But new patterns are emerging, and old moral lessons are being relearned.

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(Bishop Fred) Henry apologizes to parish.

Catholic New Times

March 17, 2002

CALGARY (CCN) — Bishop Fred Henry has apologized for not telling the congregation of a Calgary church about the history of a priest convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy 16 years ago. James Kneale resigned as a priest of St. Patrick’s Church Feb. 7 after some parishioners said they felt betrayed.

The Canadian Press quoted Henry as saying, “In hindsight, I recognize that I made a mistake in not consulting with the parishioners of St. Patrick’s parish in an open and responsible manner.” The bishop said it disturbs him that the priest’s reputation is forever tarnished now that his background has been made public: “I think he has been treated unjustly.”

Kneale was hired last year as a priest at St. Patrick’s, his first assignment since pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Ontario boy in 1986. He was arrested in 1997 when he was associate pastor at Our Lady of the Scapular Church in Niagara Falls, Ont. Kneale served a nine-month conditional sentence in the community and received 18 months probation.

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Give priest (James Kneale) a second chance, pastor urges. 

Catholic New Times|

February 24, 2002 

CALGARY — Members of a large Calgary parish were stunned to hear that their popular pastor is a convicted sex offender after a fellow parishioner recognized him from news reports. Fr. James Kneale is currently in Europe on sabbatical and has not yet spoken to his congregation since it made the discovery.

Kneale’s co-pastor, Fr. Keith Sorge, spoke frankly to members of St. Patrick’s Church during a recent Mass, Asking for their understanding, he explained that he and local Bishop Fred Henry both knew about the priest’s conviction, but decided not to tell parishioners. “We asked ourselves, `What would Jesus do?’ And I think that’s a question all the people here have to ask. By asking them to do that we’re not in any way condoning what Father Jim did, or whitewashing it, but people do deserve a second chance.”

In 1999, Kneale pled guilty to sexual assault in Ontario after charges were brought against him for a series of incidents in the 1980s involving two teenage boys. He served a nine-month conditional sentence and was released on 18 months’ probation. One of Kneale’s victims is suing him, another priest, and the bishop and Diocese of St. Catharines.

Some parishioners said they could forgive Kneale for his past transgressions, while others said they were thinking about leaving the parish. Most told local media they simply didn’t know what to think. Henry appointed Kneale co-pastor of the parish last fall.

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 Maria Canton 

Calgary Herald

Sunday, February 10, 2002 

Words of support were given to Bishop Fred Henry following his appearance at the Saturday evening mass at St. Patrick’s Church, where he apologized for hiring a convicted sex offender to preside over the church without consulting parishioners. 

Church goers gathered around Henry outside of the southwest Catholic church, thanking him for his confession and explanation. “We fully support you. You did the right thing. This will help,” said one woman, who put her arm around Calgary’s Catholic bishop. 

St. Patrick’s parishioners were left reeling earlier this week after it was revealed their priest, Father James Kneale, was sentenced in Ontario to a single charge of sexual assault in 1999.Kneale admitted in court to performing oral sex on a 16-year-old boy in the Holy Rosary rectory in Thorold, Ont. in 1985. 

But despite Henry’s admitted wrongdoing and his presence at the mass, some parishioners are still not satisfied. 

“This doesn’t change anything. In fact (Henry), is only making things worse,” said a woman, who didn’t want to be identified, after leaving with her young daughter. 

“Bishop Henry stands by his decision that Kneale should be forgiven and I don’t agree with that.” 

Henry spoke to a group of about 300 after the mass, reading from prepared notes that were available and widely read by parishioners before the hour-long service. 

The notes were freely handed out as people exited the church. 

During his explanation, Henry stood by his reasons for hiring Kneale, but said his failure to let parishioners partake in the process was a grave error on his part. 

Henry also stressed that Kneale was never found to be a pedophile or have psychopathic behaviour patterns. 

“The diocese of Calgary has a zero- tolerance policy on hiring pedophiles. Father Kneale has never been formally labelled a pedophile and we have never hired a pedophile,” Henry said. 

“I know this has been a difficult week for you and I hope now we can start to heal together.” 

Kneale was appointed by Henry to St. Patrick’s Church in Shawnessy last fall. He was only recently recognized, however, by a parishioner who remembered him as a convicted sex offender from Niagara Falls, Ont. 

Kneale resigned on Thursday and it has since been made public that he will not be assigned any priestly duties upon his return to Ontario. 

The incident also attracted the attention of Mad Mothers Against Pedophiles, who last week held multiple protests against Kneale’s appointment. 

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 Mothers protest church’s ‘secrecy’ 

Calgary Herald 

Emma Poole 

 Monday, February 04, 2002 

 A small group of protesters outside a southwest Calgary Catholic Church on Sunday condemned the institution’s decision to hire a convicted sex offender.

 Mad Mothers Against Pedophiles protested in front of St. Patrick’s Church in Shawnessy, demanding Father James Kneale, 46, be removed.

 “We shouldn’t continue to support the secrecy in the Catholic Church,” said Linda Pushor, acting president of MMAP. “We need to break the silence.”

 Formerly of Niagara Falls, Ont., Kneale was charged with several sex‑related offences that were alleged to have occurred between 1982 and 1985 involving two teenage boys.

 In August 1999, Kneale pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault; the Crown agreed to withdraw the other charges.

 Kneale was recently recognized by a Calgary parishioner who knew him in Ontario. She drew attention to his status.

 Four members of MMAP greeted Sunday morning worshippers with signs reading “Free Our Children, Not Sex Offenders” and “Justice For Children, Not Pedophiles.”

 During the service, Father Keith Sorge read a prepared statement to the congregation backing the diocese’s decision to hire Kneale.

 “In the spring of 2001, Father Jim (Kneale) contacted (Calgary Bishop Fred Henry) asking if he would be willing to accept him for pastoral ministry in the Calgary Diocese,” said the statement.

 “(Kneale) was completely upfront and straightforward with the bishop as to his reason for making this request to move from his own diocese.”

 Sorge told the group he did not regret taking Kneale on, and was willing to give him a second chance.

 Pushor said she’s all for second chances, but the fact the church kept Kneale’s past from worshippers was wrong.

 “He’s a convicted pedophile and we wouldn’t put him in a classroom,” she said. “He shouldn’t have a position with children.”

 Several parishioners objected to the group’s protest.

 “There were a couple of people who were darn right angry with us,” said Pushor.

 Kneale is out of the country and unaware of the protest.

 “I understand the emotional turmoil which this situation raises and appreciate the concern which it indicates,” said Sorge.

 Bishop Henry is also away and unable to comment until his return on

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Convicted priest assigned to church 

Move angers sex assault victim, parish lobby group

Toronto Star

Feb. 3, 2002. 01:00 AM

CALGARY (CP) CC A Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Ontario is working as a parish priest in Calgary.

Rev. James Kneale, 46, was appointed last year as a priest at St. Patrick’s Church. It is his first such assignment since he pleaded guilty in 1999 to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in the 1980s. He was sentenced to nine months in custody and later granted a conditional sentence

Despite Kneale’s criminal record, the church stands behind its decision. A representative of the Calgary diocese said Kneale paid for his crime and deserves another chance.

But his victim, a 32-year-old Ontario man, who called the priest “a sick, sick man,” was devastated to learn the man who assaulted him 17 years ago is back in a church and around children.

He said his life has been fraught with drug abuse and suicide attempts as a result of the abuse.

A local lobby group has also launched a campaign aimed at removing the priest.

“This is absolutely disgusting,” said Linda Pushor, acting president of Mad Mothers Against Pedophiles. “I’m totally and thoroughly disgusted and angry.”

Pushor plans to ask Alberta’s justice ministry to put restrictions on Kneale’s contact with children and said she will also write a letter of complaint to the church for placing Kneale in a parish.

Rev. Bill Trienekens, vicar general for the Calgary diocese, said the priest’s hiring was approved by Bishop Fred Henry, who was aware of Kneale’s past.

“We have had no complaints here whatsoever. Everyone has the right to be restored in life,” Trienekens said. “You can’t forever hang a guy up because he has done something wrong.”

Trienekens said parishioners were not told about Kneale’s past.

Kneale was associate pastor at Our Lady of the Scapular Church in Niagara Falls when he was arrested in July, 1997.

He was originally charged with several sex-related offences that were alleged to have occurred between 1982 and 1985 involving two teenagers.

He initially pleaded not guilty to one charge of indecent assault involving a 19-year-old man from St. Catharines and five sexual assault charges related to a Fort Erie boy.

Three days into his trial in August, 1999, Kneale pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and the Crown withdrew the other charges.

Kneale was sentenced for a single charge of sexual assault that occurred when his victim turned 16.

Police seized pictures of one of the complainants in nude and semi-nude pictures when they arrested him.

Trienekens said Kneale was out of the city on vacation and could not be reached for comment. 

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 Priest quits 

Vancouver Province 

February 8, 2002 Page A2

A Roman Catholic priest resigned from his Calgary church yesterday after some parishioners made it known they felt betrayed upon discovering that “Father Jim” was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in his past.

The bishop who hired Rev. James Kneale apologized for not telling the church’s congregation about the priest’s past, but added he didn’t purposely try to hide the man’s criminal record.

“In hindsight, I recognize that I made a mistake in not consulting with the parishioners of St. Patrick’s parish in an open and responsible manner,” Bishop Fred Henry said.

I don’t blame anybody but myself. I’m the guy who made a bad judgment call…..It’s my responsibility.

“I goofed.”

Parishioner Erza Malone said the discovery of Kneale’s criminal record has divided St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

“People are pretty upset,” she said. “Some believe he should be forgiven, but many say they could no longer sit in church and listen to him preach.

“I’m glad he resigned

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Pickets protest priest

Pedophile revelation sparks furor 

Calgary Sun    

Monday, February 4, 2002 

By TONY SESKUS— Calgary Sun

CALGARY — Emotions at a Calgary Catholic church reached the boiling point yesterday as an anti-pedophile group picketed outside morning mass after parishioners learned one of their favourite priests is a convicted sex offender. 

“They (the protesters) shouldn’t be doing this, they shouldn’t be here,” said Marino Catamisan, a supporter of Father James Kneale, an Ontario priest convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy and secretly relocated to Calgary. “He has served his time . . . Everyone makes mistakes. He’s a very nice guy.” 

But other members of St. Patrick’s Church, 1414 Shawnessy Blvd. S.W., were furious to learn the background of “Father Jim” so long after he arrived in Alberta. “I’m very disappointed we weren’t told,” said Blaine Anhel, a father of three. “I will be telling the bishop that I’m very disappointed and asking him what he plans to do about it.” 

Mad Mothers Against Pedophiles marched in front of the church to protest against Father James Kneale, whose conviction for sexual assault on a teenage boy stemmed from an incident in the 1980s when he was a priest in Ontario. 

 “We don’t have any problem with a religion’s right to forgive, but putting a pedophile in a position of trust goes beyond forgiveness and makes a statement,” said Linda Pushor, acting president of MMAP. “We wouldn’t allow a convicted pedophile to be a coach or a teacher. A priest is also in a position of trust and authority and that’s a bit of a stretch for a pedophile.” 

 Kneale was convicted in 1999, in Ontario, of the sex offence. He served his nine-month sentence in the community and also received 18 months probation. Prior to his trial Kneale was sent to Southdown, a facility outside Toronto which provides treatment and therapy for clergy who have problems with things like alcoholism, emotional breakdowns and sexual dysfunction. Church leaders say staff told them it was “highly unlikely” that Kneale would re-offend. Officials said Bishop Fred Henry, who is out of town until tomorrow, knew of Kneale’s past and approved his move to Alberta last spring. But the congregation was not told of his background until this week when a former parishioner of his from Ontario, who had moved to Calgary, recognized the convicted priest.

Kneale did work with altar boys, but was never out of view of parents or colleagues. Father Keith Sorge, St. Patrick’s parish priest, said the bishop felt Kneale deserved a “second chance” and asked the congregation to do the same. He said Bishop Henry and the parish would ultimately decide whether Kneale stays on. 

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Priest says boys consented to sex

Niagara Falls Review

08 August 1999

A Roman Catholic priest admitted on the witness stand yesterday that he is a homosexual and that he had sex with two boys in the 1980s, but insisted they consented.

Father James Kneale, 44, testified he performed fellatio on one teenager, John, while they were in bed together in his room at Holy Rosary Church in Thorold.

That incident occurred in 1984 after the boy and a male companion visited the church after a party. The other boy went to sleep in a guest bedroom while John had first fallen asleep in an easy chair.

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 July 15, 1997  

Canadian Press

NIAGARA FALLS (CP) — A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexual assault has been placed on administrative leave. 

James Kneale, 42, was arrested last week and charged with five counts of sexual assault. 

Police said the alleged assaults took place between 1983 and 1985 and involved a teenage boy. 

The local diocese has suspended Kneale while the case goes through the courts.

   
     
       

 

   

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