The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton has closed its office in the city as it looks for millions of dollars to pay compensation to victims of sexual abuse.
To date, 90 victims have come forward in a confidential compensation process headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache. There are another 10 or so people who have filed lawsuits against the church and two former priests.
One of the priests accused, Father Camille Leger of Cap Pelé, died 23 years ago. Father Yvon Arsenault was removed from his priestly duties last July.
Archbishop Valery Vienneau said the diocese has managed to cut $400,000 from its annual budget — including $50,000 from closing the diocese in Moncton — but with the pending lawsuits, he said there could be more cutbacks.
“We try to make projections because I know what happened in other dioceses but that’s not necessarily what’s going to happen here. We hope that we will be able to get through this and not go bankrupt,” he said.
“I believe we can, but that will have to be seen later on.”
The number of staff who work for the diocese has been cut from 19 to 14. The remaining employees have been split between the St. Augustine's Parish Office and the Christ the King parish, both in Moncton.
Vienneau said there is some interest in buying the diocese office and the property surrounding it. He hopes it will sell by Christmas.
There are other dioceses that are struggling to raise money to pay victims of sexual abuse. The Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia is selling millions of dollars in property, including churches, to raise the money.