victims of abuse perpetrated by pedophile priests are asking for a cut
of the profits from an upcoming high mass celebrating the canonization
of the Montreal Roman Catholic priest known as Brother André.
many as 50,000 people are expected to attend the Saturday mass at
Montreal's Olympic Stadium, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and
Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
With tickets costing $5, the Catholic Church stands to collect
$250,000, said two groups representing victims of sexual abuse by
A celebration of André Bessette's canonization is a perfect occasion
for the church to reach out to abuse victims, recognize them officially
and offer compensation, the groups said.
One group represents people who attended Collège Notre-Dame in
Montreal. The school was once run by the Congregation of the Holy Cross,
the religious order that founded Montreal's Saint-Joseph Oratory,
Bessette's spiritual home.
When he was a lay brother with the congregation at the turn of the
20th century, Bessette, now known as Saint Brother André, worked as a
porter at the college.
"They've been celebrating Frère André for the last two weeks, and
that's great. He did great things," said Robert Cornellier, a member of
the Committee of Pedophile Victims at Collège Notre-Dame.
"But we have
to remind people that along this, there's a dark side of the story."
Allegations of abuse at Notre-Dame initially surfaced a couple of
years ago, when some victims spoke out about their experiences.
this year, CBC's French-language service reported the Congregation of
the Holy Cross was aware of allegations of sexual abuse by priests who
taught at the school.
Radio-Canada presented evidence backing claims that the college kept
some of the accused teachers on staff and decided not to report the
incidents to police.
Montreal police recently issued a call for anyone
who was a victim of sexual abuse to contact authorities, even if the
incidents happened 40 years ago.
Groups ask Cardinal for help
week, Cornellier's group wrote to Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, the
archbishop of Montreal, and Bishop Pierre Morisette, president of the
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking them to divest a portion
of profits from Saturday's mass to people abused by Quebec priests.
Turcotte will preside over the high mass at Olympic Stadium Saturday.
The victims' groups say they have no intention of protesting at the mass because it would be disrespectful, Cornellier said.
"For people who still have faith in the church, it's still important,
so we decided it wasn't appropriate to organize a protest at the
stadium," he said.
Cornellier says his brother René, who died 15 years ago, was sexually abused when he was a student at Collège Notre-Dame.
"Any apology is too little too late," he said. "But we hope the
congregation will collaborate with police. We want to bring the people
who committed these crimes to justice."
The congregation is prepared to work with police on any case, said Mylène Forget, a spokeswoman for the order.
But money collected at Saturday's mass will benefit Saint-Joseph's Oratory.