So, another priest has been charged, this one an 80-year-old from the the Archdiocese of Ottawa, Ontario, Father Bill Allen.
At or shortly after the time charges were laid, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast issued pres release. I blogged my first thoughts upon reading the press release. I was bothered that going to police was an “option.”
I’ve been meditating a bit on that. Am I jaded?
I understand that victims have difficulty coming forward, and I understand that some would prefer to reveal their horrific stories under a mantle of secrecy. What I don’t understand is the nurturing of the shame which keeps victims silent and ashamed. At least, that’s the way I see it. Why not encourage victims? Why not assure them that there is no shame in being a victim of sexual abuse? Why not encourage them to go to police so that justice can be done?
It seems to me so many Church officials and judges and lawyers are all too ready to nurture the feelings of shame which gnaw at the innards of a sex abuse victim. How can we reach the point that victims truly understand that the shame is not theirs to bear if one and all fall all over themselves to comply with a desire for secrecy?
I don’t mean that victims must shed their anonymity. But I do mean assuring them there is nothing to be ashamed of in being a victim, and I do mean ensuring that, if a crime has been committed, taking whatever steps are entailed to see that justice is done. How , on this earth, can justice be done without going to police and starting the process which leads to trial?
A victim can go through the judicial process retaining his/her anonymity. Why then, for the reluctant victim, not encourage pursuit of that step with the understanding that he/she wishes to remain anonymous?
It bothers me. It truly does.
Am I misreading the press release?
Is it just me?
Anyway, press release aside, the charges against Father Bill Allen prompt a few thoughts which have been rumbling through my mind for the past few hours, most, but not all, relate to St. Pius X school where Allen taught for a good many years. Here goes:
(1) Father Bob Bedard, the founder of a charismatic order of priests known as the Companions of the Cross, is unfortunately in poor health. I say unfortunately because he was a close friend of Father William Allen and would without doubt have something to say about the charges. I am sure that if he has heard he is extremely upset at the news.
Father Allen graduated from St. Augustine’s seminary with Father Bob Bedard in 1955. Both were ordained for the Archdiocese of Ottawa, and both taught at St. Pius X prep seminary. Father Bedard was teaching at Pius X in 1959. Father Allen was also teaching at the school in the 1959-1960 school year. (that’s according to the Canadian Catholic Church Directories of that date)
In 1962 Bedard was Principal, a position he retained through to 1970 and possibly probably beyond.
Father Allen served as Bursar for a few years.
(2) A little about St. Pius X
As a prep seminary St. Pius X initially took in only young boys of high school age. The objective was to foster vocations to the priesthood in the boys.
Most boys were from the Ottawa area and most were day students. However there were student boarders. For a number of years the boarders included boys sent from the Diocese of Hamilton Ontario. According to the Pius X website there would be about eight Hamilton boys at the school each year. Students stopped coming from Hamilton in 1967. There were still boys boarding at the school until 1971.
Also teaching at St. Pius X throughout the years 1961-1970 were Fathers M.J. MacLean, D. Gavan, J.J. MacDonald, L.M. Lunney, P. Baxter, F. Redmond, There were others but those priests were there for most, if not all, of those years. All priests lived in residence.
I don’t unfortunately at this time have detailed information beyond 1970.
(3) Fathers Allen and Bedard celebrated the 55th anniversary of their ordinations this year. In honouring the occasion the recent Diocesan newsletter Catholic Ottawa sought a few words of advice from Father Bill Allen:
When asked if he had any advice for seminarians, on how to be a holy and happy priest, Fr. Bill said one word “Prayer. At times, priests drift away from prayer . . . Put yourself in the Lord’s care. He is the eternal high priest. He will look after us and will always bring us back.” Fr. Bill also added that a priest should not be a “recluse” – “it is important to get together
(4) According to the Fall 2005 Companions of the Cross newsletter, when Father Bob Bedard was feted for his 50 th anniversary, Father Allen was seated at Bedard`s table:
In Fr. Bob’s closing address to the dinner guests he thanked Fr. Jake, the others who spoke (even Chris Keyes who did a hilarious imitation of Fr. Bob), and all the guests who came out to mark the occasion.
He pointed out that seated at his table was Fr. Bill Allen, who was ordained the same year he was, in Ottawa, and with whom he lived and served as a fellow teacher at St. Pius X High School for many years.
(5) On 27 October 1975 Robert Poulin, an 18-year-old Pius X student, raped and murdered a 17-year-old girl, then went to Pius X and opened fire in Bedard`s classroom, killing one student and wounding five others before turning the gun on himself.
Bedard was later told by Poulin`s father that Poulin intended to kill Bedard. Bedard, however, is said to be sceptical of that, believing that Poulin was familiar with the classroom and could readily have shot Bedard had he aimed accordingly.
Was Father Allen teaching at Pius X at the time? I’m not sure. I am sure however he heard the accounts of the horror from many. I first got an eye witness account of sorts around 1985 from Father Stephen Hill. In 1975 Hill was a layman/teacher at Pius X (He was ordained in 1978, a late ordination.)
(6) Father William Allen is living at the John Paul II residence near the diocesan centre on Kilborn Ave.
Isn’t that the same place Canada’s disgraced Bishop Raymond Lahey is supposed to be staying pending his 2011 child porn trial?
Is Lahey keeping an eye on Allen, and Allen keeping an eye on Lahey? Is that how it works?
Dear Lord help us!
P.S: Comments are still getting blocked by Sympatico – I will be on the phone to Ma Bell this morning to see what has been or is being done to fix this. Again, my apologies – I can do nothing to correct it – it is in Bell’s hands.
Enough for now