The following is the text of the statement released by the Archdiocese of Ottawa/Archbishop Prendergast after Father Joe LeClair pleaded guilty to theft and fraud.
ARCHDIOCESE OF OTTAWA
1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa ON K1H 6K9
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, January 20, 2014
ARCHBISHOP PRENDERGAST ISSUES STATEMENT WITH RESPECT TO
GUILTY PLEA BY FR. JOE LECLAIR
The Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa, on learning that Fr. Joe LeClair, the former pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish in Ottawa, pleaded guilty to criminal charges laid against him some months ago, issued the following statement:
“Despite this difficult decision affecting Fr. LeClair’s life, I know that he is relieved to have this painful moment behind him. I share his desire, and that of the many people who supported him over the last two years, to move on and to look to the future.
Many people, with the best of intentions, had encouraged me, and those who assist me in my ministry, to deal with this matter outside of the criminal justice system. For a number of reasons, including the need of our Catholic Church to be transparent about such matters and to resolve what had become a highly publicized matter, the decision was made to refer this issue to the police with the expectation that the case would be treated fairly and thoroughly.
With Fr. LeClair, we now look to the future, understanding that the court’s decision on sentencing will be part of any future plan. In a courageous and very public way, Fr. LeClair admitted to the addictions which were harmful to him personally and to his pastoral ministry. As we have from the first day when Fr. LeClair’s problems became known to us, we continue to support Fr. LeClair in his recovery. Aware of his many talents and of his 25 years of effective pastoral ministry, we will work with Fr. LeClair in his desire to return to the exercise of his priestly ministry.”
No other comment will be provided.
Sarah Du Broy
Communications Officer Office: 613-738-5025, ext. 238, Cell:613-620-5641