Moncton diocese must find funds to pay abuse victims

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Other churches have sold assets to recoup funds to pay abuse victims

CBC News

Posted: Jun 6, 2012 7:50 AM AT

Last Updated: Jun 6, 2012 9:07 AM AT

The Archdiocese of Moncton wants to offer financial compensation to victims of sexual abuse by the late priest Camille Léger but it may be forced to sell some of its its assets in order to raise the funds.

The diocese announced this week that it had retained Michel Bastarache, the former Supreme Court of Canada justice, to handle all the sexual abuse complaints against Léger, who was a priest in the small southeastern New Brunswick village of Cap-Pelé.

Donald Langis, the diocese spokesperson, said it is not yet known whether some of the 56 churches, rectories, parish centres or parcels of land will need to be sold to raise money to pay for the financial compensation.

“Will we go towards selling parishes, I don’t know. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. That’s never been brought up until now,” he said.

“I would say that’s a last resort.”

Sexual abuse victims of Léger have until the end of the month to come forward to Bastarache. The former justice has said compensation between $15,000 to $300,000 will be given out to Léger’s victims.

Norman Brun came forward recently to say that he was compensated fifteen years ago for abuse he suffered from Léger.

Other victims spoke out about the abuse for the first time when the community was debating whether Léger’s name should be removed from the village’s hockey arena. Léger’s name was taken off the arena in March.

Once the victims come forward to Bastarache, Langis said the diocese will have a better idea of what it will have to pay out.

“Our financial administrator is looking at different options. And he will come up with proposals and at that time we’ll start looking at that seriously and say, ‘This we can do, that we can’t do and so on and so forth,” he said.

The priest died in 1990 and was never convicted of any crimes.

‘Moral obligation to be generous’

The situation being faced by the Archdiocese of Moncton is not unique, however.

Other churches have been forced to sell off assets to pay for compensation stemming from sexual abuse complaints.

For instance, the diocese of Antigonish, N.S., has sold many of its 400 properties in an effort to raise some of the $18 million it owes victims of sexual abuse.

As of January, the diocese had collected $2.1 million from selling properties, such as old parish halls and empty houses.

And there’s been a mixed reaction from parishioners in the community.

“There are many specific examples or cases, where the properties in question may be very important in the parish so that created some resentment. In general, I think, people know there is a moral obligation to be generous to the victims,” said Charles MacDonald, a parishioner in Sydney, N.S.

Decisions on hold

The church may need to look hard at the need to sell assets. Church incomes in southeastern New Brunswick have dropped considerably in recent years, according to Langis.

Roman Catholic churches have seen shrinking rates of attendance. Out of the 120,000 Catholics in the Moncton diocese, only about 20 per cent actually go to church regularly.

With the diocese in debt and its commitment to compensate victims in Cap-Pelé, other major projects, such as repairing the Notre-Dames-de-l’Assomption Cathedral are on hold.

“But until we have that figure. It’s going to be very difficult to take any decisions,” Langis said.

The Moncton diocese has a difficult decision on what to do with the historic Notre-Dames-de-l’Assomption Cathedral.

The church has not been able to find the $7 million it needs to keep the downtown Moncton cathedral open. It is also estimated another $3 million would be needed to be put into a trust fund for future repairs.

The cathedral was built in the 1940s and it is a fixture of the Moncton skyline.

When the cathedral was opened it served roughly 1,500 families, now only 300 use it as their church regularly.

Robert Pichette, a prominent Acadian author, said in his book on the cathedral that it has played an important part in the history of the Acadian people in Moncton.

12 Responses to Moncton diocese must find funds to pay abuse victims

  1. Sylvia says:

    I’m sure that if all else fails Bishop Valery Vienneua can give helpful hints on the art of legally raiding the diocesan seminary fund.

    Yes, I know, I am being sarcastic, – at times it’s hard not to be.

    The fall out of clerical sexual abuse and coverup to all is inestimable, – spiritually, emotionally and, yes, financially.

    The most recent cost to the Diocese of Antignoish was $13 M.  That was just for the one big deal which was initially brokered by the porn-possessing and now defrocked Bishop Raymond Lahey.

    According to a 16 November 2010 article in the Telegraph-Journal:

    The [Bathurst] diocese has access to $4.75 million in unrestricted funds but
    requires money from 21 trust funds to compensate the victims…

    It looks as though the Diocese of Bathurst paid out well in excess of
    $5 M to pay for the sins and crimes of its molesting Fathers?

    In truth, we have not a clue how much was paid out in the Bathurst Diocese of Bathurst deal.  The files have been sealed by court order – included in the seal is the  amount paid Mr. Bastarache for doing the job. 

    It’s all top secret. 

    • Baspuit says:

      *¸Some where you said “don’t know why some refused in Bathurst to follow the Bastarache route of conciliation”?  For me is when he said I’m not here to make changes, only to make you an offer, take it or leave it!   I left way before!  Lot’s of us want changes, especially after some victims told us that their aggressor is still in service!!!!

  2. Mike Mc says:

    Question: What is the actual financial value in Vatican coffers? Can Rome pay the abuse victims?(once the Churches run out in the Moncton Diocese?) 

  3. Sylvia says:

    Baspuit, in response to your comment at 9:47 am, I think you may have misunderstood something I may have said earlier.  I would never have questioned those who opted out of the Bastarache/Bathurst Diocese conciliation process.  I may have asked why they opted out in order to understand how victims and the whole process were handled, but I would not have asked in a manner which portrayed opting out in a negative fashion.  While I understand those who remained with the process, I commend those who opted out.

    It is disturbing beyond measure to read your comment that at least one of the molesters who was reported during the conciliation process is still serving in the diocese.  Why was the priest not reported to priest and/or family services?  Can you tell us any more about this Baspuit?

    • Baspuit says:

      *I think Bastarche answered “why” nobody reported to familly services etc…  The victims is adult today and I don’t know if he or she went the Bastarache route.  All I know is his or her short story and the name of the priest and his or her reason for not going to the police!  Very very complicated case……………… but the important thing here is HE is still in service!   I could go the cops myself but we need a victim to come foward, not a victim of father Lévi Noel. 

      Nobody knows how hard HOW HARD it is to come out, like taken your last breath before drowning……………..and then what happens.  Might as well have come out in an other country, cause all I see today around me are strangers!

  4. Sylvia says:

    Mike Mc, I think that if the Vatican or anyone else was asked and wanted to put money in the Archdiocese of Moncton’s coffers it could.  If, on the other hand, it were a lawsuit the Vatican can not be held liable  – that is what a number of lawsuits in the States and elsewhere have been trying in vain to do.  In John Doe v Bennett (2004) the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a claim against the Roman Catholic Church in 2010

    I suppose in truth that even with a lawsuit there is nothing to prevent the Vatican or anyone else from putting money in the coffers? 

    I still think that known or convicted clerical molesters should be signing over their estates, selling their cottages and dipping into their won pockets to pay in some small part for the damage they have done.

  5. Sylvia says:

    By the way, Michel Bastarache was a member of the Supreme Court of Canada when the John Doe v Bennett case wound its way to the Supreme Court.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Baspuit, you say:

    “Nobody knows how hard HOW HARD it is to come out, like taken your last breath before drowning……………..and then what happens.  Might as well have come out in an other country, cause all I see today around me are strangers!”

    Yes, it is extremely difficult for victims to come forward.  It is important for the general public to understand how terribly difficult it is.  And it is important that you victims encourage each other.

    You did it Baspuit.  And as you have discovered, it was not the last breath you took before drowning.  You didn’t drown Baspuit.  You are still very much alive, and you have found your voice and are speaking out.  You are now helping others who are locked in a cage of shame and fear.  I am sure life is not perfect, but you didn’t drown – you found your voice.

    What do you man when you say:  “Might as well have come out in an other country, cause all I see today around me are strangers!”  Do you mean that you have no support from family and former friends?  Is that what you mean?

    • Baspuit says:

      The public, is what I mean!  Nobody has looked into my eyes since May of 2008, a stranger in my own town!  In my defense I often tell them “If a fire was burning your house and I call the fire department, am I a traitor to the fire”?  But in return I’ve met a hell of lot of poor soles/victims and I say to myself I was pretty lucky compared to a lot of them and the most important is that I’m not alone!  Contrary to what Mgr Andre Ponce Pilat Richard told me 1991 “You are the first person I know that has accused father Levi Noel of wrongfull doing”!  Because of him and his lies, I will fight to the last day of me life!  The TRUTH will prevail

  7. JG says:

    *On the 2nd of June we hear of bastarache coming to the rescue!

    On the 6th of June, this about having to sell assets!!!

    Too soon?…too quick?….or just a lot more victims and much more than the initial claim of a ”rumour”…????!!!!


  8. Mike says:

    *     Just my humble opinion, to any abuse victims in the Archdiocese of Moncton. The retired Justice is jsut that RETIRED! He is just a lawyer and he is representing the Archdiocese of Moncton, not you victims. As such he will act in the “best interests” of the Archdiocese, not you!
         I find the “oath of secrecy” morally decayed and absolutely alarming. Can any of you imagine if these conditions were applied to a murder case? There is somewhat of a precedent here. Think back to Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. When you might consider going to the “retired” Justice for compensation, just remember the sick deal that was offered to karla Homolka. Please don’t go there1 Get your own lawyer, who will act in your best interests.    Mike

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