The strange interactions of Father Lorne Whalen & Brigadier General Roger Bazin

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This is a very brief overview of the troubled life of Father Lorne Whale, now deceased, – suffice hopefully  to put into perspective his interaction with Father Roger Bazin, former Brigadie General and Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces who is currently facing sex abuse charges.

Father Lorne Whalen was a native of Newfoundland, born 10 October 1956 in Bell Island.   After a lengthy and troublesome on-and-off-again journey through the seminary (St. Peter’s, London Ontario)  he was finally ordained 07 May 1988 for the Diocese of Pembroke, Ontario.    

 In 1991 Whalen became a chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces.  He retained that position until his untimely release in 1995.  The year of 1994 was spent in Ottawa Ontario, much given to legal wrangling pending his discharge.  The process which eventually culminated in his discharge had essentially started in January 1994 when a military investigation concluded that an allegation of sexual harassment filed by a young Private against Whalen was valid. 

During his 1994 year in Ottawa Whalen lived at St. Patrick’s rectory for a spell.  He was later assisting at St. Brigid’s.   He also, for a very brief spell, was counselled for his “psychosexual conflicts.”

  More on all of this later.  

 On 23 August 1994 then Brigadier General Roger Bazin distributed a document asking that Father Whalen’s prieslty faculties be withdrawn.  Bazin outlined several occurrences which apparently prompted him to initiate this action, including, “unacceptable conduct and behaviour as a military chaplain” which included “improper touching of a sexual nature on the person of the wife of a pastoral associate in the presence of witnesses,”  “a particularly improper letter written to a man he hardly knew and in which he suggested by innuendo a sexual relationship,” and, “in December 1993 a fourth incident of a similar nature brought a formal complaint from a young Private for sexual harassment.”

 Bazin concluded:

 2. Taken separately, none of these events may warrant a revocation of his ecclesiastical mandate.  However, the accumulation of all these incidents have taken place in a very short period of time since his enrolment in 1991, has led me to conclude that he is not suitable for ministry in the Canadian Military Chaplaincy.  We cannot afford more scandals to tarnish our reputation and permit further harm to our personnel.  It is simply not possible to allow Capt. Whalen to remain in the Chaplaincy when he has shown that, in spite of written warnings and admonitions, he has provoked one incident after the other.  Furthermore, he did not follow up on two initial sessions with the counsellor he had been referred to by the military psychiatrist.  At this point Command Chaplains have indicated they do not want his services in their respective Commands, and military authorities in Cold Lake have made clear they do not want him either.  Because of his inappropriate behaviour, Capt. Whalen has lost credibility in the Canadian Forces.

 3.  It is clear from the incidents that Capt. Lorne Whalen cannot function any more as a military chaplain.

 A copy of the memo was sent to Bishop Brendan O’Brien, then Bishop of Pembroke and Whalen’s bishop.

As noted above, Whalen was in Ottawa throughout 1994 and was there fore in Ottawa when Bazin’s memo was released.

 On 07 October 1994 the commanding officer of CFB Cold Lake served Whalen with a Notice of Intent to Release.  Whalen had already been stripped of his priestly faculties within the military, he was now to be released from CAF completley, primarily because he was no longer employable with the military without his priestly faculties. .

 On 23 October 1994 Father Whalen was introduced at St. Brigid’s Church close to downtown Ottawa and just two block down from Notre Dame cathedral, the palace of the Archbishop of Ottawa, then Marcel Gervais.

Father Whalen was sporting an earring, very unusual for a priest, at least in those days.  In converstaion he said he was from Newfoundland and had been “shipwrecked,” and from the sanctuary during a weekday Mass advised parishioners that he was going to be around and helping out in the parish for a long time.

 After his arrival at St. Brigid’s some parishioners learned that Father Whalen was actually supposed to be in Cold Lake Alberta serving as a military chaplain.  That raised questions.  When I eventually found out that Father Whalen had gotten into some sort of trouble in Cold Lake,  had been stripped of his priestly faculties and was in the process of being kicked out of the military I spoke to my parish priest, Father Pedro Arana, and was assured that all was well and that, in response to my concerns, he had checked with Bishop O’Brien and been told that Father Whalen was a priest “in good standing.”   

 I had trouble with that.  I truly did.   I knew even then that it takes an awful lot for a bishop to remove a priest’s faculties.  I was also familiar enough with the military to know that people are not ‘kicked out’ without very good cause.  

 I learned through a CFB Cold Lake contact who didn’t want to say too much that there had been problems with Whalen.  I was told that parishioners in Ottawa would be wise to watch their children.  I relayed the message to Father Arana.

 Nothing was done to either put my concerns to rest or remove Father Whalen.  Attempts to learn why Whalen was being released and what initiated the release were cloaked in a veil of secrecy.  Trying to find out what had happened to prompt the removal of Whalen’s priestly faculties,  and why he had suddenly surfaced at St. Brigid’s in Ottawa, and why he wasn’t at the very least in Pembroke was like running into a brick wall.

 Meanwhile Father Whalen had accused a fellow military chaplain of violating the seal of confession.  That too is another sordid story and will be addressed later.  In short, for Father Whalen, 1994 was rife with legal activity, both Church and military.

 On 16 November 1994 CBC TV’s Simon Gardner ran a short news clip regarding Father Whalen’s presence at St. Brigid’s.  After that, Whalen was gone from St. Brigid’s..  (I will post the CBC transcript later)

 There is more, much much more, to this tortured man’s background.  He never should have been ordained.  As I have said, I will give more details over the next few days, but for now this is suffice to show where Father Roger Bazin fit into Whalen’s life, and why Bazin, now facing sex abuse charges himself ,  was named as a Defendant in one of Whalen’s lawsuits

And now, excerpts from one of Father Lorne Whalen’s lawsuits naming Roger bazin as a Defendant, this one dated 03 April 1995.  (There was a second, which also names Bazin, dated 15 November 1996)   In the Statement of Claim Father Lorne Whalen’s  seeks damages for what he perceived to be the damage done by each of the named military personnel for the part they played in his dismissal from the Canadian Armed Forces, and from CBC  for damages caused by a CBC broadcast re Father Whalen’s presence at St. Brigid’s Church, Ottawa, Ontario

Lorne Whalen

 And

 Her Majest the Queen in Right of Canada. Minister of National Defence and Chief of Defence Staff; Major John Edmonds; L.Col. Deborah Davis; L.S. Genevieve Drew; Capt. Darren Mann; L.Col. Robert Gerard; Col. David Bartram; L. Col. Murray Farwell; Bishop Anree Vallee; Col. Jean Pelletier, B. Gen Roger Bazin, Cdr. Richard Marchand; Maj. Sylvain Mauvais; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

 26. On Wednesday, 16 November 1994, the Ottawa Citizen CBC television news program broadcast a story about Plaintiff during the evening news.  A transcript of this broadcast is attached as Append “H.”

 27. In this broadcast, Defendant Father Pelletier stated that there were “five or six allegations” against the Plaintiff which caused him to be “stripped” of his military rank. But stated that the “Privacy Act” did to allow him to provide further details;

 28.  In this broadcast, a woman (presumably a parishioner) was interviewed in front of St. Brigid’s Church. Where the Plaintiff does conduct the occasional Mass, she stated that if the Plaintiff had been “kicked out” of the military that the “Privacy Act” should not remain supreme.”

 29.  In the broadcast, the Plaintiff cited some of the reasons the military had given him for his dismissal – the political homily, the racist remarks and a vague suggestion that he is harmful to children – and he also denied that any of these allegations were true;

 30.  When the broadcast mentioned that there was a “vague suggestion that ‘Fther Whalen] was harmful to children”  there was file footage running in the background, showing elementary school children playing in the park;

 31.  The new broadcast was seen by colleagues and parishioners of the Plaintiff, and members of the general public in the City of Ottawa, where the Plaintiff currently resides.  It was also broadcast in the Towns of Deep River, Eganville and Pembroke, all places where the Plaintiff has worked as a chaplain.

 32.  A copy of correspondence dated 13 June 1994 from Sister Judith Rollo of Mount Saint Agnes Academy in Bermuda is attached as Exhibit “I.”  The Plaintiff had a very successful job interview at the school in Bermuda and he was considered the top candidate for the job.  The offer was not extended to him, however, as evidenced by the correspondence wherein Sister Rollo stated that one of the reasons that the Plaintiff would not be able to get a position at her school was “another situation, the grounds for which may very well be unfounded, but which would undoubtedly reach Bermuda and cause great harm.  Bermuda is another world and gossip is one of its favourite games.  We cannot afford to jeopardize the position of the school nor of the Church.”  This is tangible evidence that the Plaintiff’s reputation in the community suffered as a direct result of the libel and slander effected against him. 

 33.  Further proof of damage against the Plaintiff’s reputation is found in correspondence dated 5 August 1994 from Patrick McKelvie, C.R., Rector of the Cathedral is attached as Exhibit “J.”  It is clear firstly, that Sister Judith Rollo had intended to extend an offer of employment to the Plaintiff.  This offer was extended then rescinded because she received information from Bishop Hennessey in which he asked her “to withdraw any and all offers because there was the possibility, according to his understanding, that there could be charges of sexual impropriety laid against [the Plaintiff]/  The Bishop’s comment to Patrick McKelvie was “things need to be cleared up in Canada before we could offer a position to father Lorne.”  That the Plaintiff was an individual that was clearly qualified and suitable for the position is further evidenced by correspondence from Msgr, Michael Barry, dated 6 August 1994 and attached as Exhibit “K.”

 34. The words spoken, published and broadcast by all the Defendants, in  their natural and ordinary meaning and in the context in which they were spoken, meant and were understood to mean that:

 (a)  The Plaintiff confided in XXX that he had been sexually abused by yyy

 (b) The plaintiff was lazy, incompetent, “smart-alecy,” rude, obnoxious, defiant, short-tempered, moody, disrespectful and tow-faced towards the Defendant, the secretaries and the general public during his tenure as military chaplain at Cold Lake {Alberta].

 © The Plaintiff used the pulpit in Cold Lake to announce his own personal political views’

 (d) The Plaintiff pretended to be nice to the people in the congregation by being kind and jovial, but in reality, this was only a front because inside he was a very sick and manipulative person’

 (e) The Plaintiff has exceptionally severe psychological problems;

 (f) The Plaintiff feels he might be a paedophile because he has “had problems” being around children’

 (g) The Plaintiff has no respect for the military not for the rules that he has to follow;

 (h) The Plaintiff is a poor example of a military chaplain and this is only one more incident in a line of problems the Plaintiff has experienced as a chaplain’

 (i) That the Plaintiff had contact through correspondence and phonecalls to Ottawa was evidence that he was involved in harassment’

 (j) That the Plaintiff knowingly harassed Pte. ZZZ even after being told not to contact Pte. ZZZ;

 (k)  That the Plaintiff is a homosexual and as such, would probably make sexual advances to someone who came to him for counselling;

 (l) That the Plaintiff is a homosexual and as such, is probably a paedophile;

 (m) That the Plaintiff has been “stripped”  of his military rank;

 (n) That the Plaintiff was dismissed from the military under suspicious circumstances and that the reasons cannot be revealed under the Privacy Act.

. . . . . .

 39.  The Plaintiff relies not only on the malice implied by the aforementioned spoken and written words, but expressly pleads that the Defendants were actuated by malice, having regard to the following facts:

 (a) The CBC new broadcast stated that Father Whalen had been stripped of his military duties when in fact, he still had the rank as a Captain and was still on the military payroll;

 (b) The circumstances of the CBC news broadcast indicated that the motive of the Defendants, individually or collectively, was:

 (i)  to ruin or injure the Plaintiff in the pursuit of his livelihood within the military and the Roman Catholic Church;

 (ii) to promote the reputation of the military and the Roman Catholic Church as institutions that are not tolerant of any sexual misconduct by their chaplains;

 ©  The Defendants demonstrated a reckless and callous disregard for the reputation of the Plaintiff with complete disregard for the truth of their statements. 

 The lawsuit went nowhere.  The second, filed a year later, was dismissed without costs. 

 On 12 April 1995 Father Whalen received an honourable discharge from the CAF.

 More to come.  Much more.

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