“Archbishop speaks to Mount Cashel victims from witness stand” & related article

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The Telegram (St. John’s Newfoundland)

14 June 2016

Barb

Barb Sweet
Published on June 14, 2016Archbishop Martin Currie expressed regret on the witness stand in Newfoundland Supreme Court Tuesday for the abuse boys suffered at the hands of Christian Brothers at Mount Cashel several decades ago, but two John Does say he stopped short of an apology.

Archbishop Martin Currie on the witness stand Tuesday in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

“You feel the hurt of these young men who were there in trust of the Brothers — men who were there to love and care for them — and they betrayed them,” Currie replied to church lawyer Mark Frederick when asked if he had anything to say to the men he heard give testimony about their experiences at Mount Cashel.“I am sure their spiritual life was shattered. There was a breach of faith, a breach of trust, so this caused great pain to them.“I see the sadness and I regret very much this happened and I have great sympathy for the suffering which they have endured at the hands of the church.”

While Currie had said the men’s stories induced heartache, two of four John Does who told horrific accounts of life at Mount Cashel to the court in April listened intently to Currie Tuesday, but weren’t ready to embrace it as an apology.

“I was almost going to go over and say, ‘Thank you for the expressions of sympathy and caring,’ but I didn’t,” a retired teacher who was physically and sexually abused at Mount Cashel told The Telegram outside court.

“Because on the stand, I think it was only formality. You are out in the public, ‘I better say this for the cause.’ … Come and talk to me. Come over and talk to me.”

“Overall, the effect of it is the Catholic church is a business,” said the man’s boyhood friend from Mount Cashel — they were both expelled after defending each other in a violent episode with a Christian Brother over the Christmas holidays in the 1950s.

“So it was like listening to the businessman who is protecting his assets.”

The two men, now in their 70s, are two of the John Doe test cases in a civil case seeking to have the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s held responsible for the abuse the boys suffered during the late 1940s to early ’60s at the orphanage, run by the lay order Christian Brothers. There are about 60 claimants in the case and another 20 represented by other law firms who could be affected.

Currie, who has no direct involvement with Mount Cashel — he is a native Nova Scotian — maintained the church’s stance during questioning Tuesday — that the archdiocese wasn’t responsible for the operations of the orphanage.

When asked by former residents’ lawyer Geoff Budden about the comment about the boys suffering “at the hands of the church,” Currie clarified that included the Brothers as members of the church.

Budden referenced a list from 1957 — a roster of 10 Brothers serving at Mount Cashel, two of whom were bedridden and a third in his late 80s at the time. Of the seven remaining, four were eventually convicted of crimes against children.

Budden, noting that some boys had confided in the parish priest adjacent to Mount Cashel in the 1950s, said to Currie the priest would have known of the actions of three Brothers through the reports to him.

Currie agreed, but noted that any further action would be taken by going through the ranks of the Christian Brothers, who had their own hierarchy and would pass it up the line.

“Surely he knew it was wrong?” Budden asked Currie, referring to what the priest heard the Brothers did to the boys.

Currie replied the allegations the priest heard were against the laws of God.

Earlier Tuesday, an expert on canon law agreed a parish priest at Mount Cashel in the 1950s would have been aware of an option to deal outside the secrecy of confession with a boy’s report of sexual abuse by a Christian Brother.

Father Francis Morrissey of Ottawa concluded his testimony Tuesday morning.

But while being cross-examined by Budden, Morrissey confirmed the seal of confession is so strong if someone confessed to poisoning the communion wine, a priest would have no choice but to serve the wine, short of dropping it.

However, when asked about one agreed statement of facts, in which a Mount Cashel boy reported in confession to the parish priest on the orphanage site he had been sexually touched by a Brother, Morrissey agreed there was an option.

That option was for the priest to tell the boy to report it to the Brother Superior. However, if the child was reluctant, the priest could ask the boy to give the information to him outside confession.

Once outside confession, the priest was free to take the information to the Brother Superior or the appropriate authorities, Morrissey agreed.

Morrissey was never a priest in Newfoundland, so noted he has no direct knowledge of the events focused on in the trial.

Follow @bsweettweets for live updates from the courtroom.

Look for a midday story on the trial Wednesday on www.thetelegram.com and full story in print Thursday.

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Twitter: bsweettweets

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Church expert confirms there was option for priest to deal with abuse reports

The Telegram (St. John’s Newfoundland)

Published on June 14, 2016

A parish priest at Mount Cashel in the 1950s would have been aware of an option to deal outside the secrecy of confession with a boy’s report of sexual abuse by a Christian Brother, an expert on canon law agreed  in court this morning.

Fr. Francis Morrissey, an Ottawa-based canon law expert, continued testifying for the church at the Mount Cashel civil trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court Tuesday. This photo was taken during a court break. — Photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram

Fr. Francis Morrissey of Ottawa concluded his testimony at the civil trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court before the lunch break.While being cross-examined by former orphanage residents’ lawyer Geoff Budden, Morrissey confirmed the seal of confession is so strong if someone confessed to poisoning the communion wine, a priest would have no choice but to serve the wine, short of dropping it.However, when asked about an agreed statement of facts, in which a Mount Cashel boy reported in confession to the parish priest on the orphanage site he had been sexually touched by a Brother, Morrissey agreed there was an option.

That option was for the priest to tell the boy to report it to the Brother Superior. However, if the child was reluctant, the priest could ask the boy to give the information to him outside confession.

Once outside confession, the priest was free to take the information to the Brother Superior or the appropriate authorities, Morrissey agreed.

Morrissey was never a priest in Newfoundland, so noted he has no direct knowledge of the events focused on in the trial.

Some 60 victims of physical and sexual abuse by certain members of the lay order Christian Brothers during the period late 1940s to early ’60s say the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. should be held liable for what happened to them.

The church contends it wasn’t responsible because it did not oversee Mount Cashel.

Follow @bsweettweets for live updates from the courtroom.

Full story to come later online and in print Wednesday.

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3 Responses to “Archbishop speaks to Mount Cashel victims from witness stand” & related article

  1. Sylvia says:

    Yes, there are other options which would allow a priest to report that a child identified his molester during confession. I believe that when properly and sympathetically handled a child would readily respond to advice from the priest confessor to talk after confession.

  2. Mike Mc says:

    Just reading this now. This secrecy of confession has allowed murderers and abuse to go on. Shame on the Church and shame on the individual priests for not reporting this.

  3. MS says:

    Every other profession MUST report child abuse of any nature. It is a criminal offense not to do so, as far as I know.

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