Pembroke priest defrocked after sex assault conviction

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Retired Msgr. Bernard Prince was sentenced in January 2008 to four years in prison for routine abuse.
Retired Msgr. Bernard Prince was sentenced in January 2008 to four years in prison for routine abuse.
Updated: Mon Aug. 24 2009 5:04:24 PM
ctvottawa.ca

A Pembroke priest who was convicted of molesting young boys has been thrown out of the Catholic priesthood.

Bernard Prince is currently serving four years in prison for routinely abusing 13 young boys dating back to the 1960s. On the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, Prince has been dismissed from the clerical state and is no longer a priest.

“The fact that Prince has been laicized . . . that’s huge. You know that is your whole life when you’re a priest. It’s your identity,” said Bruce Pappin, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke.

“It’s not a frivolous action. There’s no appeal. It’s final.”

Prince was convicted of sexual misconduct in January 2008 after a lengthy police investigation. He pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault. He was also found guilty on one other count of indecent assault.

Following the conviction, Pappin said the diocese sent documentation of the case to Rome to allow the Church to make its own ruling on the matter.

“It’s essentially a second judicial process, like a Church judicial process; which is why it takes quite a while,” said Pappin.

Although the Catholic Church made the decision to defrock Prince on May 4, priests in the diocese only learned of the ruling on Friday, he said.

Officials with the Pembroke diocese posted a statement on their website earlier this month, stating they are focused on healing for the 13 victims involved.

Prince is the first priest at the diocese to be laicized for sexual misconduct, Pappin said.

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