By Sidhartha Banerjee
THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL-The Jesuits of Canada released a list of priests and brothers Monday who they say were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors over the past 70 years.
The Jesuits, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, released the list of 27 names following an audit that began in 2020 that combed through documents going back to the 1950s.
“We cannot rewrite the past,” Rev. Erik Oland, the head of the Jesuits of Canada, said in a statement. “We do wish to contribute to reconciliation, to right past wrongs and to rebuild trust.”
Of the men named, all but three are dead. Those still living are kept under strict supervision, the order said.
The Jesuits of Canada announced they would commission an audit in December 2019. An independent auditor, King International Group, looked at documents and files.
The review provided the information needed to compile the list.
It was completed earlier this year after delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the closure of the provincial archives in Montreal.
The organization defined “credibly accused” as cases where it appears more likely than not an offence occurred, or where a Jesuit was accused by credible witnesses, parishioners, civil authorities or clergy, without any criminal charges or civil action.
The publicly available list is published on the Jesuits’ website and includes names, birthdates, status and pastoral assignments for each person.
They include the names of staff at the Spanish Indian residential schools that operated in Spanish, Ont., and were the subject of investigations conducted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The order said in a statement that the release of the names is part of the Jesuits’ effort to promote transparency, accountability, justice and healing for survivors of abuse.
Of the 27 members, 16 men are accused of multiple abuse cases of minors while 11 were linked to a single allegation. In most cases, the abuse came to light after the alleged abuser had died, with some cases never reaching criminal or civil litigation.
There are currently 208 members of the order.
Despite the exhaustive review, the order said other names could be added to the list in the future.
Oland said not everyone agrees publishing the names was a positive step, but they did so partly at the behest of victims and advocates to “help promote healing, to recognize the magnitude of their trauma and suffering, to acknowledge their experience, and to promote justice and transparency.”
The Jesuits of Canada said there is a zero-tolerance policy toward any form of abuse and anyone who has suffered abuse by a Jesuit is encourage to denounce it to police or to the order’s delegate dealing with misconduct allegations.
“Abuse of any kind is a terrible betrayal of trust, and we are determined to do everything in our power to prevent it from happening again,” Oland said. “We will continue to ensure survivors are heard and supported.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2023.