The Archdiocese of Vancouver has found that 36 clergy it employed over the past 70 years committed sexual offences, and a majority of the victims were minors.
But the archdiocese has released the names of only nine of the priests, those who are already publicly charged or accused in lawsuits. The committee that conducted the investigation recommended all the priests be named, but the archdiocese said privacy legislation prohibits further candor.
“Today, we are publishing information we are legally allowed to share. We will publish more as soon as we are able,'' the archdiocese report said.
But for now, the review said, there are issues around whether the reported allegations are true, and whether the other allegations have been investigated to a currently acceptable standard.
The report released on Friday refers to 26 cases of the sexual abuse of minors over the past 70 years, plus 10 consensual adult relationships in which “the imbalance of power made them likely to be abusive.”
The summary says three cases involved priests who fathered children.
The report says it is an “absolute imperative” for the archdiocese to publish a list of clergy who were convicted of sexual abuse, admitted to it or were “credibly accused.”
“Privacy laws which restrict publication should be consulted, but the committee urges that publication take place to the ‘maximum allowed.’ ”
The committee made 31 recommendations, and the Archbishop of Vancouver, J. Michael Miller, said the archdiocese is working through them.
In a statement, Archbishop Miller said no expression of regret can repair the horror of what has happened, but he offers his “heartfelt apology” for the victims’ trauma, violation, betrayal and sense of abandonment.
Leona Huggins, one of two victim-survivors of abuse on the committee, said the review is a good first step that other Catholic communities in Canada should follow, but that the pressure must remain to ensure the archdiocese deals with the issue.
“Every diocese in Canada should be doing this,” she said in an interview.
Lawyer Rob Talach of London, Ont., said he has filed 412 cases since 2003 related to allegations of abuse in the Catholic church, and is disappointed the names of all accused clergy were not released.
He also said reflection is lacking on why sexual abuse happens in the church.
“You can’t have prevention without understanding," he said. "To understand, you have to take it to its core – why this is so prevalent in the Catholic church.”
Melissa Godbout, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said there is no timeline for releasing more about the unnamed priests.
“We don’t know how quickly further independent investigations may uncover enough information to allow for charges to be laid and subsequent names to be released. However, as soon as they can be made public, more names will released,” she said in an e-mail.
“In Canada, we talk about the burden of proof in criminal and civil cases. We are trying to figure out a way to balance our legal obligations with the public’s right to know. We have lawyers working now to see how we can make this happen.”
In a pastoral letter released with the report, Archbishop Miller said anyone abused should contact the archdiocese so it can provide psychological and spiritual help to them and their families. The report recommends creating an intake office within the archdiocese to deal with issues around abuse, and that claims should be reported to police.
Other recommendations from the committee include the creation of an intake office independent of the archdiocese to oversee the receipt of allegations, and provide victim assistance.
The report also called for the creation of a review board to evaluate every allegation of sexual abuse, decide whether it is credible and what to do next.
The archdiocese has already accepted a recommendation to create an office of victim/survivor support, which will be established in the first quarter of 2020 and staffed by on-call professionals who are not archdiocesan employees.