Special Report: ‘I’ve been given peace:’ Rev. Barry McGrory

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The Ottawa Citizen

Published on: May 17, 2016 | Last Updated: May 17, 2016 5:54 PM EDT

Rev. Barry McGrory
Rev. Barry McGrory

The Archdiocese of Ottawa will not say how many victims of clergy sex abuse it has recognized or how much it has paid them. But, as Andrew Duffy reports in this series, documents filed in a recent lawsuit begin to answer those questions, while also revealing details of never-before-known cases — such as that of Rev. Barry McGrory. Read Part 1 of this series: “Insurance lawsuit reveals secrets of Ottawa’s clergy abuse scandal” here. Read Part 2: “Priest admits to sexual abuse for first time in Citizen interview” here. Read Part 3: “Ottawa diocese repeatedly warned about local clergy’s most notorious abuser” tomorrow. Below, read convicted sex abuser McGrory’s account of his spiritual journey towards salvation.

Rev. Barry McGrory says he was healed of his sex addiction — and his attraction to adolescents — after surrendering himself to God in the wake of his arrest for sexual assault.

McGrory, 82, a retired Catholic priest, has admitted to sexually abusing three young people from Ottawa’s Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s and 80s.

He was never charged in connection with those cases. After being assigned to a job outside of Ottawa, however, he was charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old native youth, and later convicted of that crime.

McGrory told the Citizen that he was “delivered” from his sexual disorder after the arrest.

At the time, McGrory said, he was a “practical atheist” who was acting as if he was in charge of his life, not God.

“That humiliation was the way God finally reached me,” he said. “It was the punch in the face that woke me up. I realized that there was this way out: Surrendering to this God, who always wanted to heal me. But I was resisting….

“When I made a total surrender and said, ‘OK, I give up, I’m a mess, I’m a human mess,’ then God said, ‘Good, now you and I can work together.’ And the healing really began. And it never abated.”

McGrory said he now has no sexual interest in adolescents and has returned to a life of celibacy.

In Toronto, he belongs to a group called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, which employs a 12-step program similar to the one pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. The program, he said, has helped him remain absolutely celibate for more than 20 years.

“It’s too bad that it’s not recognized that sex addicts can recover,” said McGrory, who called the 12-step program “my shelter, my salvation.”

As part of that program, he has tried to reach out and apologize to his victims, although some did not want any contact with him.

McGrory said he first became aware that he had an unhealthy attraction to teens when he was about 30 year old. He went to a private spiritual advisor, a Jesuit priest in Ottawa, who arranged for him to see a psychiatrist in Montreal.

McGrory subsequently visited 10 psychiatrists and psychologists, none of whom could help him with his sexual disorder.

“They were just baffled by me,” he said.

One psychiatrist, a Charismatic Catholic, tried to heal him through the laying on of hands. Another gave him powerful tranquilizers. None of it worked.

Eventually, he told Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde about his condition, but he was not sent for treatment. “I should have requested that openly and deliberately, and the Bishop should have sent me,” he said. “But I don’t blame them, I blame me.”

Instead, he was named president of the Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, now Catholic Missions in Canada, a Toronto-based organization that helps remote Catholic communities.

“They knew I had this very dark affliction, and how awful it was,” he told the Citizen. “And I’ve never been able to understand why they appointed me to such a prominent role. And being alone in a big city with no family, it made it harder — pulling up roots in Ottawa.”

The Archdiocese of Ottawa declined an invitation to comment on McGrory’s allegation.


McGrory said his alcoholism worsened in Toronto, which made his sexual urges more difficult to control.

McGrory told the Citizen he first decided to enter the priesthood because he wanted to help people. But he experienced a lot of inner turmoil before taking his vows due to his strong sex drive: “I didn’t know where it was going to be directed, or how sick it was, but I knew I had that.”

He was given “a wonderful gift,” McGrory said, when he was relieved of that burden by God.

“I’ve been given peace,” he said. “And it’s totally undeserved, by the way. This is just God’s mercy. I just hope and pray I can be useful to people in the years I have.”

Contact Andrew Duffy at aduffy@postmedia.com or at 613-726-5853

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