Statement on Reported Abuse Lawsuits

It was reported in the news media today (January 20, 2012) that two lawsuits have been filed against The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton by a man who alleges he was sexually abused as a child in the 1970s by a priest and a church organist. The Archdiocese has not received the statements of claim.

It is a matter of public record that Rev. Patrick O’Neill was convicted in the 1990s of sexual offences against children. He currently lives under the close supervision of the Archdiocese, with no access to children, and conducts no form of priestly ministry.

We want to take this opportunity to assure all staff, clergy and parishioners that the Archdiocese takes any allegations of abuse very seriously. We are committed to ensuring that any archdiocesan employee or priest who offends against children is promptly removed from ministry, that any offences against children are immediately reported to civil authorities, and that victims receive an apology and assistance in recovering from any harm they have suffered, including compensation where appropriate.

Archbishop Richard Smith has been clear about the need to confront crimes such as sexual abuse squarely, and remains committed to abuse prevention.

Reverend Gregory Bittman
Chancellor and Judicial Vicar