The Ottawa Citizen (This article also appeared in the Ottawa Sun)
Published on: May 19, 2016 | Last Updated: May 19, 2016 6:56 PM EDT
Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen
Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Ottawa. Photographed on May 8, 2016. James Park
A victim of Rev. Barry McGrory’s sexual abuse is demanding to know why the Catholic priest has never been defrocked.
Colleen Passard sent a written statement to the Citizen after the newspaper published a story this week about McGrory, a Catholic priest who admitted in an interview that he sexually abused three adolescents at Ottawa’s Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s and 80s.
McGrory was convicted of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old native youth in 1993 — six years after he was moved to Toronto from Ottawa.
Passard, who asked that her name be published alongside her statement, said diocesan officials assured her in 1997 that he had been removed from the priesthood.
“However, despite assurances from church officials that Barry McGrory had been defrocked since his sexual abuse conviction in 1993, he has continued to be a priest, to hold a sacred trust in the community, under the auspices of the archdiocese,” she wrote.
“This is reprehensible. The archdiocese’s failure to defrock McGrory has demonstrated an intentional and reckless disregard for sex-abuse victims and is a breach of the archdiocese’s own public policy to protect citizens from sexual predators.”
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Ottawa, Deacon Gilles Ouellette, said records show that McGrory’s rights to present himself as a Catholic priest and to perform its “ministries” were removed in 1995. Priestly ministries include celebrating mass, hearing confessions and administering the sacraments.
“He (McGrory) has not, however, been dismissed from the clerical state, popularly known as laicized, something that ultimately only the Vatican can do,” said Ouellette.
A diocese can trigger that Vatican process. Ouellette said diocesan officials in Ottawa will now consider whether to do that in McGrory’s case.
“Given the comments attributed to him in recent days,” he said, “that matter will be under review for possible recommendation to the Vatican.”
Passard said she finds it offensive that the diocese is only now considering McGrory’s removal from the priesthood — more than two decades after church officials became aware of the priest’s sexual abuse of adolescents in Ottawa and Toronto.
“The archdiocese trumpets that the protection of children is the church’s number one priority and simultaneously they let McGrory remain a priest — this is a flagrantly deceptive and dangerous doublespeak,” she wrote. “McGrory’s history is not mired in secrecy to the archdiocese. They are fully aware of his long catalogue of transgressions.”
Documents show that McGrory often identified himself as a Catholic priest after 1995.
In June 1998, he appeared before a Queen’s Park committee to talk about issues of poverty and race, and identified himself as “a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, currently living in Toronto.”
In the December 2004 edition of the Catholic New Times, McGrory wrote about his work as an election monitor with Pax Christi, a Catholic peace organization, and identified himself as “a priest of the Archdiocese of Ottawa.”
In a June 2006 article about aboriginal rights published by the Toronto Star, McGrory is identified as “a retired Catholic priest who has been researching aboriginal justice issues for many years.”
There’s also evidence that McGrory has celebrated mass. Sylvia’s Site, a website devoted to the clergy sex abuse scandal in Canada — it’s operated by Sylvia MacEachern of Fitzroy Harbour — has posted a conference schedule from May 2006 that suggests McGrory celebrated a “special mass” at St. Francis Xavier University, his alma mater, during a meeting of First Nations youth.
In an interview earlier this month with the Citizen, McGrory admitted that he sexually abused three young people at Ottawa’s Holy Cross Parish — something he blamed on his sex addiction and his powerful attraction to adolescents.
McGrory said then-archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde knew of his sexual disorder but nonetheless put him in charge of a Toronto organization dedicated to assisting remote Catholic missions. He was charged with sexual assault while working for the organization, now known as Catholic Missions in Canada.
Thanks to a 12-step program and “a merciful God,” McGrory said, he has conquered his sexual disorder, achieved inner peace and returned to a celibate lifestyle.
On his Facebook page, McGrory describes his work in retirement as “a mix of pastoral care and writing.”