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Lunch break. Hearings resumed at 14:00 (2 pm) this afternoon (Tuesday, 02 October 2007).

Fernand Vivarais will take the stand.

Father Claude Thibault has completed his testimony. You will note I made no real comment on his testimony of yesterday. I found it strangely unsettling. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it and decided to wait it out.

Well, Father Thibault has finished his testimony. I suppose if I have anything to say it would be that my sense is he either chose to go in on his own to do damage control, or he was asked and agreed to go in to do damage control.

Damage control for whom? Of that I am uncertain, but he did speak highly of Bishop Eugene Larocque and Jacqeus Leduc.

Interesting too that his testimony and that of Mrs. Brisson (mother of Benoit, a victim of Father Gilles Deslaurier) conflict on a crucial point. Mrs. Brisson’s evidence would say that Father Thibault disclosed to her that he was sexually abused by Delsaureir and also that he told her he had been to talk to Bishop Larocque about the abuse and Larocque had failed to act. Father’s testimony is that he had gone to see Larocque at an earlier date about Deslaurier, but NOT about the sexual abuse – only to complain that Deslaurier was playing games with him (Thibault) and telling him lies. According to Thibault, it was during that meeting Larocque said “Those are pretty serious accusations.”

Dallas Lee (Victims Group) did a good job of honing in on that.

Lee asked if Larocque delved deeper into the nature of the vague accusations. It seems he did not.

Lee asked if if Thibault thought Larocque’s response was an over-reaction to some very vague allegations?

Good point indeed.

Lee also asked if Father Thibault had contact with Laorcque since the former bishop’s departure.

Good question!

Thibault had to think a moment. A pause. He thought that three summers ago on his way to Detroit he had lunch with Larocque in Windsor, Ontario. He didn’t think they discussed the inquiry. But, yes, the pair did discuss Father Deslaurier.

Lee also asked about Deslaurier’s relationship with Bishop Adolphe Proulx. Father Thibault recalled that Deslaurier had departed Sudbury, Ontario and arrived in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall at the same time as Bishop Proulx. Proulx too came from Sudbury where he had served as Auxiliary Bishop to Alexander Carter, then Bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste Marie.

When asked, Thibault described the relationship between Deslaurier and Proulx as good friends. Rest assured there are many who have described the relationship between the pair in much greater depth. But, Father Thibault seems not to know or to have heard none of that.

And then there were his interactions with Jacques Leduc.

Thibault initially told police he had bever been abused by Deslaurier. According to this Roman Catholic priest, he was bothered by the lie. He contacted Jacques Leduc, knowing him to have a canon law degree and believing him to be someone he could trust.

According to Thibault Jacques Leduc told him he could be charged with contempt for lying. It was Leduc’s suggestion that he contact police and change his response to “no comment.” Leduc made the call.

Thibault spoke well of Leduc. No one asked how he felt about the charges against Leduc, or his thoughts on the $32,000 pay-off, or his thoughts on the illegal gag order. Nor did he offer his opinion.

He did however, on at least two occasions talk of the terrible damage done to those who are wrongfully accused. And he did speak of the need to provide services to those who make false accusations.

No mention of who he believes has been wrongfully accused.

A final point.

Very interesting.

Father Thibault spoke of confiding in a fellow seminarian at St.Paul’s, Stephen Amesse. According to Thibault, Amesse continually commented on the “control” Deslaurier seemed to have over Thibault. Thibault eventually disclosed his sexual abuse to Amesse. That was back in the mid 80s.

I wondered yesterday if that could be Father Stephen Amesse, Archdiocese of Ottawa – late vocation to the priesthood – ordained 1999.

I dismissed the thought. It made no sense.

However, today Thibault mentioned that Amesse had worked on From Pain to Hope.

So, yes indeed. That is Father Stephen Amesse. What a small small world.

For whatever reason Amesse did not proceed to ordination back in the 80s. He apparently changed his mind about his priestly vocation. In fact he spent ten years working on Parliament Hill as a legislative assistant.

He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Ottawa in 1999. What we Catholics call a “late” vocation. I believe he attended seminary in Connecticut rather than return to St. Paul’s.
Amesse worked on from From Pain to Hope in the early 90s, apparently before he had decided he would pursue a vocation ot the priesthood after all.

Interesting in that the confusion I was getting over Father Thibault’s testimony now starts to make sense.

I got the distinct impression that Father Thibault believes the bishops of Canada are doing a great job dealing with clerical sexual abuse. He also is adverse to kicking an offending priest out of the priesthood. He follows the novel line of Father Morrissey  that it’s better to keep them and be able to keep an eye on them. True he favours stripping them of their faculties, but that’s a totally different matter. It doesn’t put them out of the priesthood. They’re still there to give scandal to the Church and to the faithful.

Father Thibault is also adverse to the Dallas “one strike you’re out” policy. He believes some priests molest only once and should be given a chance!

That’s not the kind of talk you get from the average male victim of clerical sexual abuse. Not at all. But, if Father Thibault has maintained his friendship with Amesse, it could explain his thinking. It’s very From Pain to Hopish. Very in keeping with Father Frank Morrissey’s approach.

Wittingly or otherwise Father Thibault is simply regurgitating the Father Morrisey From Pain to Hope line.

That I can grasp.

I commend Father Thibault for having the courage to come forward. I sense however he has been used or sent to do damage control.

For whom? Time perhaps will tell.

Enough for now,

Sylvia

(cornwall@theinquiry.ca)

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