Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s files for creditor protection

For victims of sexual abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage in the mid-20th century, time is running out, but that’s exactly what the church is looking for more grace – the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has asked the protection of its creditors.

“We are the garbage,” said one of four John Does who have fought for compensation for more than two decades – a legal battle waged by St. John’s attorney Geoff Budden.

The man and his four brothers were abused at the St. John’s orphanage. A brother has died in the past two years. Two are in long-term care and one has early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s no surprise the church is taking the bankruptcy court route, but it’s infuriating that the wait for compensation goes on and on, Doe said.

He will be 82 on his next birthday.

“What do you say after you say it’s amazing?” ” he said.

“This is the Holy Roman Catholic Church for you.… I have no more anger. I think I expressed it all. My feeling towards them or my idea of ​​who they are is a bag of pus. They have no feelings for the complainants, absolutely none. I think they have confused Beelzelbub and Jesus. “

Archbishop Peter Hundt made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, December 21, via a press release indicating that the Archdiocese had filed a notice of intention to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act .

“In the past year, since the court ruling became final that the Archdiocese was vicariously liable for the abuse allegations at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, we have worked hard to determine the best way to resolve these complaints. while ensuring the continued practice and celebration of our Catholic faith, ”Hundt said in the statement.

“Indeed, we will be asking for additional time to complete our valuation of our assets, launch a formal appeal for claims against the Archdiocese and develop a proposal for our creditors to settle victims ‘claims and creditors’ debts. This process will involve the Archdiocese commercializing Diosesan properties, including church buildings, to satisfied claims. It will be a transparent process arbitrated by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hundt, who declined an interview, said in the statement that the church is committed to resolving the victims’ claims and “hopes that by doing this we can bring some healing to them, their families and to all who have been hurt by sexual abuse. “

Hundt said he would meet with parishes and groups in the coming weeks.

Budden, of Budden and Associates, said the church has had quite a bit of time already.

“They were one year since the Supreme Court (of Canada) ruling and 16 months since the Newfoundland Court of Appeal ruling,” Budden said Tuesday after the case was announced.

“They do what they think is right for them. And we will respond by doing what is right for our customers. … We will be there (throughout the bankruptcy process), ”he said.

The case was opened in 1999 with a declaration, but was not tried until 2016.

One of John Does’s four representatives has since died.

The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s, the legal entity of the Archdiocese of St. John’s, had asserted that it was not to blame for the sexual abuse and insisted that the Irish Christian Brothers were an independent secular order.

In the summer of 2020, however, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s was responsible for the sexual abuse of orphans at the hands of some members of the Christian Brothers during this time. .

The church’s attempt to appeal the ruling was dismissed in January 2021 by the Supreme Court of Canada, which declined to hear the appeal.

The orphanage opened in 1898 and was demolished in 1992. A scandal erupted in the 1980s when systemic sexual and physical abuse of boys residing there in the 1970s and 1980s was finally exposed after cover-ups and led to the Hughes Inquiry.

Men who were abused as children at the orphanage in the mid-20th century were not compensated by the provincial government, as subsequent victims were, and after the bankruptcy of the Irish Christian Brothers, victims of that time have sought compensation from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. of St. John’s in the lawsuit brought by Budden and Associates of St. John’s. There are over 75 claimants represented by the firm, appeals continue to come in, and the outcome also affects the cases of various other lawyers.

In 2018, at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Justice Alphonsus Faour ruled that the Archdiocese could not be found vicariously responsible for the conduct of Christian brothers.

But the Court of Appeal concluded that the trial judge had erred in law on this point, and that the relationship between the Archdiocese and the Irish Christian Brothers was sufficiently close to warrant holding the Archdiocese responsible for the fact. others, and he should pay damages to the victims.

In 2016, a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court civil lawsuit – covered almost exclusively by The Telegram – heard, among other things, allegations that boys from Mount Cashel were beaten while on the job. queued for meals, had to eat porridge filled with dead larvae, and steal waste from swill vats made from the remains of patients in city hospitals.

There was also the account of an incident of a boy being dragged by a rope into a freezing cold pool where children were forced to bathe with bars of Sunlight soap to save hot water, of a boy screaming as he was beaten up in the shower for arriving late and rushing in and out of the cold water, sex acts committed at night by a Christian brother wandering in the young boys’ dormitory , and a traumatized boy eating a bar of chocolate and drinking carbonated drinks while being sexually assaulted by the canteen operator because he did not know what else to do.

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