Nfld. & Labrador

Bishop wanted RCMP to investigate complaints against 2 priests

The Roman Catholic bishop for the diocese in Grand Falls says he pushed to get police to investigate complaints against two priests in his area.

The Roman Catholic bishop for the diocese in Grand Falls says he pushed to get police to investigate complaints against two priests in his area.

The RCMP is investigating two priests at parishes in Gander and Bonavista for complaints of a sexual nature.

Police said neither of the complaints involve a minor.

Bishop Robert Daniels said both men were suspended from the church in August, and he wanted to get police involved to ensure proper handling of the complaints.

Daniels said he contacted the complainant to push them to contact police, stating that if they didn't, he would — due to the nature of the complaint.

There's no doubt that this rattles the sense of trust, once again, that people have in priests.- Bishop Robert Daniels

"When I discovered that [the complaints], my heart was broken because somebody here has made a serious complaint against two of our priests," he said.

"My concern was for the complainant, but also for the communities where these priests are serving, knowing that while the investigation was ongoing I would have to withdraw them from ministry."

Shaken trust

He said while he hasn't spoken to all parishioners at both churches, but said there have been priests able to replace the suspended priests during the investigation.
Bishop Robert Daniels says it was important for him to get the RCMP to look into complaints against two suspended priests, to ensure a thorough and effective investigation. (Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Falls)

Daniels said this is just another situation that will shake the parishioners' trust in priests.

"I think that the trust that people put in our priests has been very vulnerable for a long time because there just seems to be an ongoing problem or an issue where the people only trust the priests to learn that, perhaps, they should not have," said Daniels.

"And that trust is not something automatic any longer, it is now something that I think priests understand they need to earn by doing well and caring for the people properly, so there's no doubt that this rattles the sense of trust, once again, that people have in priests."

Daniels added an investigation does not necessarily mean wrongdoing, which is why he was adamant about getting the RCMP involved to conduct a thorough investigation.

"If there is wrongdoing and it is shown, we will deal with it," he said.