Posted: May 13, 2011 3:02 PM CT
Last Updated: May 13, 2011 3:02 PM CT
The Roman Catholic Church’s bishop for Nunavut is visiting the eastern Arctic hamlet of Igloolik to help local Catholics deal with the sudden departure of their priest, as well as address the pain many in the community feel about a former priest who is now accused of sex crimes.
Bishop Reynald Rouleau of the Catholic Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay was scheduled to arrive in Igloolik on Friday for a week-long stay, during which time he will lead Sunday mass at St. Stephen Catholic Church.
The local church has been without a regular spiritual leader since March, when Rev. Tony Krotki left after receiving a verbal threat from a man in the community.
“It’s not Igloolik, it’s one person who threatened Krotki. They want a priest, from what I understand,” Rouleau told CBC News.
Krotki was threatened by a man who claims he had been victimized by Eric Dejaeger, who served as a Catholic missionary in Igloolik between 1978 and 1982 and now faces a long list of decades-old sex crimes.
‘We need to say something’
A number of individuals claim that Dejaeger, now 64, sexually abused them as children when he was in Igloolik. He is currently awaiting trial at the Baffin Correctional Centre in Iqaluit.
“How come that could have happened and we saw nothing?” Rouleau said, adding that he plans to confront Igloolik’s painful past during a sermon on Sunday.
“We need to say something about how I see the situation and what happened, and also express my sorrow,” he said.
Josephine Kublu, an Inuit elder and devout Catholic, told CBC News that Igloolik’s 900-strong Catholic community has been holding its own services — even baptisms — in Krotki’s absence.
Rouleau said he is open to talk to anybody in Igloolik, where the Catholic Church hopes to hang on to its strong following in the face of a decades-old scandal.