Revisit N.L. commission into church abuse: nun

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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | 12:48 PM NT

CBC News

[Picture to left: Sister Nuala Kenny believes recent scandals in the Catholic Church justify revisiting the work of the N.L. Winter Commission that looked at sexual abuse in the church. (CBC)]

A member of the long-defunct Winter Commission into sexual abuse by priests in Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to revive the inquiry’s work 20 years after it was established.

She is doing so as the scandal affecting the church has reached the very top of its hierarchy, with allegations that Pope Benedict XVI and officials under him turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by priests.

Closer to home, Newfoundland Bishop Raymond Lahey, who went on to lead the diocese of Antigonish, is facing child pornography charges and a civil suit after allegations he sexually abused a boy when he was a priest in St. John’s.

Sister Nuala Kenny says the latest controversies prompted her to dust off the Winter Commission’s two-decade-old report.

Kenny is one of the people the Catholic Church consulted in 1989 when it launched its investigation into sexual abuse by members of the church in Newfoundland.

Earlier this year, Kenny, a nun and retired pediatrician now living in Halifax, took the Winter Commission’s report to Canadian bishops hoping they’ll revive its work.

“I believe the Canadian Catholic Church can lead something that is unfinished from Newfoundland,” she told CBC News. The Winter Commission said by trying to avoid scandal, the church contributed to the sexual abuse of children.

Its recommendations ranged from how to report abuse to giving more power to lay people, and requiring more accountability from priests and bishops.

Canadian bishops followed some of its advice, such as measures to screen new priests, but Kenny said they never dealt with recommendations that went to the very foundations of the church.

“We are where we are today, with the magnitude, because we did not attend to all these systemic issues,” said Kenny.

She said if the church had followed the Winter Commission’s advice back then, much of the pain over the last two decades could have been avoided.

Story comments (24)

Ryan66 wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 7:20 PM ET

Alot of people in the communities have questions to answer, why parents, teachers and others in the community knew about the abuse years ago and chose to do nonthing is what I would like to know. They should be ashamed of themselves, all just to stay in the good graces of the almighty catholic church.

brazeau boy wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 7:18 PM ET

I do not think that the catholic church will ever bounce back from this.
Even if it tried to, where would they get enough individuals to become priests when the rules are so strict towards them and they have proven to being unable to control their urges.

The Voice of Treason wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 6:01 PM ET

A blueprint was layed out 20 years ago on how to respond to pedophilia in the church. The church decided to continue the cover up instead. The first thing they did was pretend it was only happening in NL. Poor backwards little NL.
Maybe now they might listen? Maybe?

will2change wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 5:28 PM ET

…why then haven’t any of these bishops, priests, etc. been charged for purposely covering it up or not reporting it?

thats a great question @socialissues – I would like to know why as well. I can guess.

Bad Karma wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 4:18 PM ET

I have a lot more faith in something that a nun says before anything that a priest or bishop says. Some of my schooling was under nuns. They were harsh but fair and if one knew about what was going on, she would have moved heaven and earth to get justice done.

socialissues wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 3:59 PM ET

So, what I don’t understand is: If it is an offence NOT to report a crime against a child, why then haven’t any of these bishops, priests, etc. been charged for purposely covering it up or not reporting it?

Our country needs to separate state from religion – they do not make good bed partners.

will2change wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 3:37 PM ET

Earth to Hugo!

The Vatican Organization is responsible for the Catholic’ Churchs’ neglegence of the ongoing abuse! Who cares what “The Pope” says: he’s lied in the past; why won’t he lie now?

There is solid evidence they were enforcing the Crimen Sollicitationis documents.

This is proof of criminal activity.

I wonder why are people like yourself defending this monsterous corporation? Jesus SURELY wouldn’t want you to!

hyassin wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 1:56 PM ET

One of the Pentatauca books, the Genesis talks about the creation of the world and the women from the body part of the men (Adam and Eva). The scope of their creation was to multiply.

The celibacy of the Roman Catholic Church must not be , one of three or four compulsor vows for the preisthood. (Celebracy, Obedience and Poverty or the whole Obedience for Holy Father, for the Jesuit Fathers and the Congregation of the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcuta).

However, the Ortodox Churches which have the same 7 Sacraments as the Roman Catholic Church allow their priests to get marriage, but they , the married priests are not eligible to receive the episcopal consacration to be the guide as bishops of their churches.

Certainly, if the Supreme Roman Pontiff would make a referendum, as a result, the majority of priests and nuns should choose to marry. Last week, 66% of Roman Catholic preists of Austria voted to get marriage.

Furthermore, the defunct Abbe’ Pierre, a former Franchiscan Capuchin Frence monk and the Spiritual Father of homeless in Paris, who died years a go at age of 98 year-old admitted that he had affairs with many women. May his soul rest in peace, he recomanded to abolish the ecclesiastic compulsory celibacy.

Moreover, His Eminance Most Rev. Card. Carlo Maria Martini, SJ., the emeritus Archibishop of Milan-Italy and professor at the Gregorian University, in Rome-Italy, in Theology and the author of a myriad of important Books about the Dogma, expressed his opinion that the Pope must allow to abolish the compulsory Celibaty to avoid the pedapholia.


kgms sfn wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 1:40 PM ET

The Catholics say no most of it did not happen but if it’s proved we did, then we’re sorry. Now everyone praise, the Pope, The Priests, and the Church, while we pass the collection plate.

PrimeNumbers wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 12:39 PM ET

The Catholic Church has a serious problem, not just with abuse and child rape by it’s priests, but the cover-up of the priests and moving them on to abuse in new locations.

The investigation cannot stop in Canada, but must go right to the head of the Church.

The Catholic Church has enjoyed special privilege for long enough, and they’ve used that privilege to facilitate the abuse of children. Not only is it time for the abuse and cover-up to end, but for the special privilege to end too.

asiseeit wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 12:38 PM ET

Whatever it takes, bring the guilty to justice.

Les And wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 12:25 PM ET

With all due respect to those who are attempting to disclose all of these abuse allegations, when one considers the beliefs of those who are at the top powers of these investigations, very little will be done to punish the guilty priests or the church. When these commissions are headed by life long, staunch believers of the Catholic doctrines, they will be just as guilty in covering for the church as those in the church its self.

There have already been disgruntle remarks made about those involved in some of the commission investigations that were headed by Catholic church goers. There is more to finding out the truth and punishing the guilty than many realize. Of course the many will disagree with this post but some how, the truth of these tragedies must be brought to light and those who are guilty of the sexual abuse crimes must be brought to justice.

Vain Zero wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 12:03 PM ET

I personally think that part of the problem and systemic issues with sexual abuse in the church lay in the fact that the church put together commissions to investigate things rather than call the police the moment an allegation came forward: the cops should investigate the church, not the church.

Its like asking a group of kids to investigate if they ate the cookies. “No ma’am, not me, no ma’am.”

Tech_2007 wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 12:01 PM ET

One other little fact:

According to a 2005 survey, there were 406,411 catholic priests worldwide. Let me remind you, that NONE of those were under any obligation to undergo any type of background check.

Tech_2007 wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 11:54 AM ET

Fact: 195 countries which have some Catholic pressence
Fact: 1,068,368,942 Catholics worldwide

We’ve heard reports of abuse from 4 or 5 of those countries in the media. What about the others..the countries where local authorities, along with the congregation and church have turned a blind eye for one reason or another. Who will speak out for the abused, the children, there?

edmonton nut wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 11:50 AM ET

how would i bring in a law,that i would charge nfld,

welfare, the r.n.c

for covering up kidnapping of my son
16 years ago and got away with it

mikefromcanmore2 wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 11:38 AM ET

As I said many timed before. This institution is antiquated, with antiquated ideas and run by antiquated people. Excuse the repetition. It has absolutely no place in today’s society.

will2change wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 11:34 AM ET

Good for her!
The Vatican Organization needs to be held responsible for the Catholic’ Churchs’ neglegence of the ongoing abuse.

Especially with evidence they were enforcing the Crimen Sollicitationis documents. This is proof of criminal activity.

I wish her luck: and she has my full support as a Faithful Canadain.

VoiceOfTheCommonMan wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 10:38 AM ET

Here is a fascinating article about the sexual abuse. Once the initial shock to still-devout Catholics is past, there are some very interesting facts in here, this guy did a lot of research…

zippybear wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 10:32 AM ET

How about we start taxing the churches in an effort to recoup SOME of the money wasted on ineffectual inquiries into the habits of these pedophiles? It’s clear that change won’t come from the church… so perhaps it came from the State.

The Artist formerly known as Ronnie Wristshot wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 9:58 AM ET


Just close the damn things down, sell their assets, try and heal the wounds with the cash and bring on science.

Proud in NL wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 9:46 AM ETAnother report gathering dust. Leave it where it is because the Catholic church is never going to change. Good or bad, resisting change has got the Catholic church where it is today.

VacantLot wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 9:36 AM ET

With all due respect, good luck Sister.

Beothuck wrote:Posted 2010/06/23
at 9:36 AM ET

Good, you go Girl!

3 Responses to Revisit N.L. commission into church abuse: nun

  1. Be a voice for the voiceless says:

    I am a devout Catholic. It is not anti-Catholic to speak up. The sin of omission is anti-Catholic. The hierarchy of the Roman Church run a sophisticated cult of endemic and systemic abuse using mind-control techniques, perfected over time. It would take a miracle to change this mind-set.

  2. Esperanza says:

    The Winter Commission was an exercise in political correctness and dancing around the problem. Like all the other enquiries they ignored the elephant in the sacristy.
    and a myriad of other documents on the issue which one can find through search engines. Until they stop admitting candidates who are intrinsically disordered to the seminaries the problem will continue. Bishops are more interested in being in tune with the spirit of the time than in teaching and governing in their dioceses. When they were appointed they took on a job requiring moral courage. For the most part they are wimps who please only the sycophants with whom they surround themselves.

    The Red Cross did the same thing when political correctness became the arbiter of who could be a blood donor. The result was the deaths of many who received transfusions of tainted blood.

  3. Sylvia says:

    That’s a well written article Esperanza. Thanks for the link πŸ™‚

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