The Archdiocese of Montreal has done little to counter complaints against a pedophile priest and, according to an independent party, appeared more interested in protecting its reputation than its victim rating released on Wednesday.
Former Quebec Supreme Court Justice Pepita G. . Capriolo’s report highlighted numerous shortcomings in the Church’s response to complaints against Brian Boucher. The priest was sentenced to eight years in prison in March 2019 for molesting two boys.
« Secrecy is everywhere in this file, » Capriolo wrote in her report. « Secret archives, secret hiding spots for sensitive documents and documents so secret that they have been completely eliminated. «
Capriolo said at a press conference Wednesday that the church had not properly handled complaints against Boucher from the 1980s through 2015. « Yet Boucher’s inexcusable behavior had been the subject of numerous complaints from the start of his career in the Church. «
Their 276-page report described complaints against Boucher of bullying, authoritarian, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, verbal and physically aggressive behavior. « What impressed me the most was the handover of the money, » Capriolo told reporters. « The need to protect Boucher’s reputation seemed paramount. «
As of 2015, no minors had alleged sexual abuse against Boucher. But that is no reason to exonerate church officials.
She said in the report that church officials overseeing Bouchard’s formation, training and work as a priest are not accountable and do not take complaints against him seriously.
Two young men, 18 and 19 years old, had complained to the Archdiocese in the late 1990s and early 2000s about situations with Boucher that it said needed further investigation. Boucher was sent for psychological treatment in connection with a complaint, she said, adding that documents for the other had completely disappeared.
Rumors of Boucher’s interest in boys have been circulating since the 1980s. Concern about the priest had been communicated to the Montreal Grand Seminary and the Archdiocese, but little had been done.
Boucher was first sent for therapy rather than discipline in the 1990s and again in 2003, she said.
His 2003 psychological assessment indicated that Boucher had a desire to exercise emotional control and power over young people, but suggested that “the need was not sexually based. « Capriolo said nothing in the report to support this conclusion.
« This is important because (the report) was later used as further justification for rejecting Boucher’s potential as a sexual abuser, » noted Capriolo. The 2003 assessment and Boucher’s constant threat of legal action – including against other clergy – served to keep people calm, she said.
By 2003, the Church had an advisory committee on the sexual abuse of minors, but no one thought it appropriate to refer Boucher to that group, Capriolo wrote in her report. « An overdue concern about Boucher’s reputation prevented any kind of investigation that could have led to better decisions about his ordination, » she wrote.
Tracking down the Boucher documents was also difficult, she said. Capriolo began her investigation a year ago, interviewing 60 witnesses and reviewing hundreds of documents.
Her report found that a culture of secrecy at the time meant that important documents disappeared and there was no paper trail that Capriolo sent to outside sources or to the Church’s own secret archives on her own fact-finding tour.
Archbishop Christian Lepine said the archdiocese will adopt each of Capriolo’s 31 recommendations, which will help the church implement them by autumn 2021.
« On behalf of the Montreal Catholic Church and for myself, I would like to say how sorry we are that you have witnessed the effects of such horrific acts that should never have happened, » Lepine said at a press conference.
Capriolo’s recommendations include better control, organizational changes, greater transparency, strict protocols for dealing with abuse, and sanctions for those who break the rules. She also recommended the establishment of an external ombudsperson and the establishment of an advisory committee to examine complaints.
Montreal, priest, Brian Boucher
EbeneMagazine – CA – « Secrecy is everywhere »: Criticism criticizes the way the Church in Montreal deals with pedophile priests