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Catholic church names more sexually abusive priests, more victims come forward

“I apologize to each of them for the trauma,” archbishop says
Catholic-church-Artem Bolshakov-istock-Getty Images Plus
Three more sexually abusive priests have been named by the Vancouver archdiocese

More victims of sexual assault by members of the Roman Catholic clergy have come forward in B.C. after the release of a report in 2019 on cases of abuse going back decades.

And the Archdiocese of Vancouver has named three more priests.

“We again want to acknowledge the deep suffering of the victims and their loved ones and I apologize to each of them for the trauma caused by the abuse by a priest,” Archbishop J. Michael Miller said in a new archdiocese publication. “They are in my prayers.”

The latest report, due for publication in The B.C. Catholic Monday, said 13 “previously unknown victims/survivors have come forward and reported their experiences.”

In November 2019, a review of files of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in archdiocese uncovered 36 cases, most involving minors, the Archdiocese of Vancouver said in a report released November 22.

The 2019 report named nine priests.

Now, the church has named three more:

• Fr. John Edward Kilty, who served at Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver, 1945–1946; Stella Maris Missions, 1946–1948; St. Edmund’s, North Vancouver, 1946–1948; and Holy Trinity, North Vancouver, 1948–1982;

• Fr. Johannes Holzapfel, who served at St. Patrick’s, Vancouver, 1955; St. Joseph’s, Powell River, 1955–1956; St. Margaret’s, Ocean Falls, 1958–1960; St. Patrick’s, Vancouver, 1960; Our Lady of Good Hope, Hope, 1960–1963; St. Joseph’s, Squamish, 1963; St. John the Apostle, Vancouver, 1965–1966; St. Margaret’s, Ocean Falls, 1966–1967; St. Mary’s, Vancouver, and at Youville  Residence, Vancouver, from 1967; St. Ann’s, Abbotsford 1972–1974 before returning to Germany in 1974, and;

• Fr. Armand Frechette, who served at Our Lady of Lourdes, Coquitlam, 1953–1970.

The report said Kilty was born in 1919, ordained in 1945 and died in 1983. In 2003, an allegation of sexual assault of a minor was received from a man and another allegation by a different man was received shortly after, the church said.

Families involved received counselling, and a financial settlement was reached with one party.

A third allegation was brought forward in 2013 by parents who believed that their son had been abused, but they did not proceed with a claim.

In November 2019, another man came forward with an allegation of sexual abuse when he was a minor in the 1970s. Representatives of the archdiocese heard his story, and offered him counselling and other support.

In October, an unnamed man who alleges sexual abuse by two Roman Catholic priests announced a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole, the Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver (CISVA) and the estates of two men.

The John Doe alleged in documents filed in BC Supreme Court October 23 that Kilty committed multiple acts of sexual assault and battery on him when he was six.

Fr. Johannes Holzapfel was born in Germany in 1916, ordained in 1953, and died in 1997. At one point he requested a leave of absence and release from his priestly vows in January 1967. The request was granted.

Shortly after Holzapfel’s death, the archdiocese received an allegation of physical and sexual abuse of a minor, and financial settlement was reached.

Fr. Armand Frechette was born in 1916, ordained in 1945 and died in 1971.

In 1999, a complaint of “improper sexual behaviour” against an unnamed Franciscan priest resulted in a financial settlement.

“It is now believed that this settlement involved abuse carried out by Fr. Frechette,” the archdiocese said. “In early 2020, the archdiocese received an allegation of abuse of a minor by Fr. Frechette. The abuse of the then nine- or 10-year-old boy was believed to have occurred in the mid 1950s.”

The person was offered counselling and received a financial settlement to his claim.

The new report said past accusations “have been very difficult to assess based on several factors but we will continue to work towards clarity and justice for victims/survivors.”

It said remaining cases fall into four categories:

• Some clergy files, mostly from the 1960s to the 1980s, which have been referred to independent investigators for further review;

•  Those where victims/survivors with settlement agreements must give permission before publication can occur. Some are still being contacted and other discussions are on-going, and;

• Other cases from 40-50 years ago are in legal processes and cannot yet be commented on.

The reports are not the only sexual assault issues the church has had to deal with in 2020.

The Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages, a BC Supreme Court judge ruled August 25.

Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleged in a December 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She named Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.

The new publication notes some would rather the church not discuss the issues.

“We understand that some people think that we should speak less about this issue because it may seem that it feeds into an ‘antifaith narrative,” B.C. Catholic said. “Moreover, the vast majority of reported abuse cases occurred between the 1960s through the 1980s. Others, including some victims/survivors, think that we are still not doing enough to address the issue and they remind us that recent and future cases may yet come to light.”