N.B. Catholic Church says there may be no money left to compensate sex abuse victims

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CBS Radio

The Current  Anna Maria Tremonti

Monday November 20, 2017

The diocese centre in Dieppe, NB., was sold a few years ago to find money to pay sexual abuse victims.

The diocese centre in Dieppe, NB., was sold a few years ago to find money to pay sexual abuse victims. (CBC)

Almost every month for the past year, lawsuits have been filed against New Brunswick’s Catholic Church by alleged victims seeking compensation for sexual abuse by priests.

The recent wave of allegations follows an earlier process, led by retired justice Michel Bastarache, that led to settlements with nearly 200 victims of sexual abuse by priests in New Brunswick.

Bastarache process

Michel Bastarche led a conciliation process that led to settlements with almost 200 victims of sexual abuse by priests in New Brunswick.

There are now 56 alleged cases of sex abuse before the courts in the province involving the church — and the archbishop is concerned they no longer have the money to compensate all the victims coming forward.

But critics say the Catholic Church has the resources to pay, and its reluctance to do so is a strategy to save face and protect the institution.

  • Jean-Louis Pitre, a victim who reached a settlement with the Church
  • Pierre, who is in the middle of a settlement process against deceased N.B. priest Camille Leger
  • Brenda Brunelle, who heads up the Canadian chapter of  Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)

Listen to the conversation and the top of this post.

This segment was produced by The Current’s Amra Pasic and Yamri Taddese.

4 Responses to N.B. Catholic Church says there may be no money left to compensate sex abuse victims

  1. Sylvia says:

    And so, as I look at the numbers, I think of Father Frank Morrissey, the Oblate guru of canon law who so many years ago floored Roman Catholic when he said in a public forum that he considered it a bad business investment to get rid of priests because the investment in each priest was in the order of, I think the figure at the time was, $250,000.

    Now look at those numbers again. That’s $16 M we’re looking at above. From only two New Brunswick dioceses. And never forget that that is from the Bastarache conciliation process only – it does not include whatever monies were paid out apart from the Bastarache Conciliation deal. Nor does that figure include Bastarache’s salary. (What, do you suppose, would be the hourly rate for a former Supreme Court Justice? Tack that on. )

    In Father Morrissey’s world that $16M+ would equate to ‘losing’ about 64 priests from the two dioceses.

    In looking at the outcome in those two dioceses to date I wonder would Father Morrissey concur that it would have been a far better business deal to do the right thing and get rid of/defrock the problem priests in the first place? (I dare not allow myself to think of the children who would have been spared the rape of their soul and loss of their faith had Church officials done the right thing as soon as they knew or suspected a priest was a predator)

    • BC says:

      Bastarache`s per diem is in the range of 6K cda + expenses + fees. approximately 1/3 of damages paid to victims would have been paid to Bastarache and the law firms involved in the settlement. Of course, it’s possible that Bastarache worked pro bono for his close friends and business associates in N-B..

      The settlements and awards in civil litigation for clerical abuse alone do not account for the sum costs of clerical abuse. You need to factor in costs for investigating, arresting, prosecuting, convicting and keeping convicted clerical perverts in protective custody until their release; then the costs of managing their release back into the community. You also need to factor in the social health-care costs of clerical abuse; in terms of it’s impact on victims who; often resort to self-medicating to not feel their pain, victims who get into trouble with the law themselves, have dysfunctional lives personally and professionally. And you have to factor in the damages to secondary victims; the loved one’s of victims of clerical abuse. For certain communities; native for example; the cost of clerical abuse is calculated on a multi-generational scale. In the case of N-B in particular, the Church played a very prominent political role (as was the case in Québec) in the advocacy of the rights of it`s french speaking residents. Without the Church in N-B, it would be difficult to imagine that there would be a french speaking community today in N-B. But for victims of clerical abuse in N-B challenging the Church in N-B meant to face not only it`s cover-up; it also meant going against the specific resistance culture of it`s french speaking residents. This is a community which was used to resist while clerical abuse was occurring and clerical predators weaponized the community against their victims. The Church knew that: it knew that the victims of clerical abuse would be facing a wall if they would expose what was done to them. And so what the victims of clerical abuse in N-B have done in recent years is so very courageous. They deserve much respect and consideration. I admire them.

  2. Bobby says:

    Sylvia, thank you so much for realizing what it’s been like to publicly expose the church in close knit Acadian communities . There are people that still have a hard time admitting that it happened, they are more concerned that there might be victims that were compensated that actually were not victim’s. I was told that I wanted to bring down the chuch , imagine I always taught that you slept in the bed that you make.

    • Sylvia says:

      es, it’s difficult for victims Bobby. How sad that after all of these years so many people still just don’t understand.

      Yes, I will be writing a book Bobby, – it will be about the Cornwall Ontario sex abuse scandal and cover-up.

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