Popups cause consternation

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I wasn’t quite sure what do with these articles so have opted to post them as a blog.

In this instance no particular priest was under investigation.  A report was made to police that child porn had been seen on a computer at the rectory. The OPP investigated.  Charges were not laid.

The media reports imply that only the Pastor of the church, Father Mario Fernandes, was feeling under the gun during the investigation.  In fact, Father Ronald Sequeira, who lived in the St. Pat’s rectory while serving at nearby Hagersville, also used the computer and without doubt also felt under the gun.  Both priest are Carmelites from India (bother have initials OCD behind their names).

Father Father Fernandes has been in Canada since 2003, and in Brtish Columbia until summer of 2012.  Father  Sequeira has been in the country since 2013.  He came straight to Ontario and to the Diocese of St. Catharines.

As you see in the articles,  the two month OPP investigation concluded that the porn was from popups – no charges were laid.

And, as an aside, according to one of the following articles Father Fernandes worked as an addictions counsellor in Vancouver.  Perhaps he did and did so before attaining his certificate in Addiction Counselling Skills from Vancouver College in May 2012? I do know that it was right after attaining that certificate that he was appointed to the Catholic Church in Dunville, Ontario.  And I know that he spent from 2006-2011 as a Chaplain at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and that around 2006 he spent a year assisting at the Cathedral and, and that seven months of that year he served as Master of Ceremonies for Archbishop Raymond Roussin .  But, he may well have been doing addictions counselling before he received that certificate (I don’t know, does a person, particularly a priest, now need such a paper to counsel addicts? )

Anyway, as it stands, there is presumably new software on the computer at St. Patrick’s in Caledonia to ensure there are no child porn popups, Father Fernandez is still Pastor and Father Ronald Sequeira was transferred to the Diocese of Prince George, BC in November of last year.

Here are the articles:

OPP clears priest of child porn allegations

CHCH

Posted: August 11, 2014 08:46:06 PM | Last updated: August 11, 2014 08:46:06 PM

It is one of societies most abhorrent crimes. Possession of child pornography. Charges can lead to prison time, destroying the lives and reputations of convicted felons.
It was back in June when police seized computers at a Catholic church in Caledonia following a tip that they contained inappropriate pornographic images. The incident shocked residents and devastated the parish priest, wrongfully linked to such a heinous allegation.

Father Mario Fernandes has spent his life devoted to helping others. A native of India, Father Mario worked as an addiction counsellor in Vancouver’s east side before moving to Ontario where he was appointed pastor of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Caledonia.

In June of this year, Father Mario’s life was shattered when police seized computers at the church after receiving a complaint that they contained inappropriate pornographic images. But a thorough check by the OPP’s technical crime unit found the images in question were advertising pop ups, that the computer’s firewall was unable to block. Today the computers were returned, and the case was closed. Still the incident has shocked the community and shattered the life of an innocent man.

Father Mario Fernandes, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church: “You can imagine now I have to work with the parishioners as well as the people I have to go to the malls and everybody looking at me and looking at me in a different way. It was really stressful to know the situation and people labelling judging you not even waiting for the OPP to come and give us the right answers. So, it was very stressful.”

It is not unprecedented but it is unusual for police to show such support for a person linked to crimes involving child pornography. It speaks volumes of their confidence in his innocence.

Mark Foster, OPP: “Well, one of the biggest issues that we run into is the stigma that is attached to a number of different images within our community and the rumour mongering that goes on when something like this has happened.”

Douglas Rees, OPP Child Sexual Exploitation Section: “Well, we explained to Father Mario at the beginning — let this ride out. Let’s see what’s here first. The community was 100 % behind Father Mario. I received numerous calls from people in the community offering support for both Father Mario. It’s one of those things that with the medias help get it back in the good books that way and carry on.”

Father Mario Fernandes: “My faith my prayer life my parishioners and my diocese, everything joined together to help me to go through this journey.”

While police stress they have absolute faith that Father Mario has done nothing wrong, they do caution that people who believe they are witnessing inappropriate material should notify police. In this case, the concerns were unfounded but in another situation, it may prevent or top a crime.

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Child porn investigation at Caledonia church

The Catholic Register

10 June 2014

By 

Police have seized computers from St. Patrick’s Church in Caledonia, Ont., as part of an ongoing investigation into child pornography.

Police have seized computers from St. Patrick’s Church in Caledonia, Ont., as part of an ongoing investigation into child pornography.

No charges have been laid and “the investigation is at a very early stage,” OPP spokesman Constable Mark Foster told The Catholic Register.

The investigation began at the end of May, Foster said. Because the police work is ongoing, Foster could not indicate the source of the complaint.

St. Patrick’s Church is located next door to St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School.

Given that police have not named any suspects or laid charges, it is too early to talk about invoking the diocesan policies on allegations of misconduct or the abuse of minors, said Margaret Jong, the Diocese of St. Catharines’ director of canonical services.

“At this point we know nothing. We’re awaiting word from the police, as is everyone,” Jong said.

According to the diocese’s policy St. Catharine’s Bishop Gerard Bergie “may at any stage of the process” suspend clergy, diocesan employees or volunteers subject to an allegation. In the case of priests, the bishop may assign them to an alternate residence pending the outcome of a Church investigation. He may also lift their permission to preach and hear confessions and forbid them from all public ministry including public celebration of the Eucharist.

At this stage, no diocesan investigation has begun.

“We first of all wait until the police have completed an investigation,” said Jong. “We are not going to interfere or take any action. The bishop will make that decision (about administrative leave and sanctions) as time goes on, if there needs be.”

The St. Catharines’ abuse policy was last updated in January of 2013. It is available on the diocesan web site at www.saintcd.com.

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OPP seize computers from Caledonia Catholic church

The Sachem & Glanbrook Gazette

12 June 2014

By Jennifer Vo

Ontario Provincial Police have seized computers from St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Caledonia as part of an investigation into alleged child pornography.

“We have seized computers and that’s as far as we are with our investigation at this point,” OPP Const. Mark Foster said. “It’s very early in the investigation, so there’s not a lot of information I can release at this time.”

No charges have been laid in relation to the seizure of the computers.

Foster couldn’t say what is contained on the computers, but the OPP crime unit and child exploitation unit continue to analyze the equipment.

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church falls under the jurisdiction of the St. Catharines diocese.

“We know that there was an allegation made of child pornography being seen on a computer at the parish office,” said Margaret Jong, director of canonical services with the diocese. “The police removed computers and they are investigating.”

Jong said it’s hard to say what action the diocese will take because the investigation is in its early stages.

“We have to wait until the investigation unfolds, so we can’t comment,” she said.

A representative from the church refused to comment when contacted by The Sachem.
St. Patrick’s is located on Orkney Street in Caledonia, next to St. Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School.

Foster said the OPP investigation started at the end of May and there is no timeline for when it might wrap up.

“Through the analysis of the computers, that will direct which way our investigation will go,” Foster said.

jvo@sachem.ca
Twitter: @SachemNews

*****

Enough for now,

Sylvia

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