Saint joseph oratory montreal 2010tThe trickle of stories relating to the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal is slow, to be sure, but it seems unending nonetheless, and they continue to come in from all over the world. The Canadian Press via the Winnipeg Free Press reports that a Catholic organization’s Quebec operation has agreed to a pay abuse victims (or their families) up to $18 million (WebCite cached article):

A major Roman Catholic organization has agreed to pay up to $18 million in a historic compensation agreement for sexual abuse committed over several decades in Quebec.

The Congregation of Holy Cross said Thursday that it has agreed to issue an apology and financially compensate victims for abuses at three different institutions over a five-decade span.

The amount is believed to be the most ever awarded in Quebec and, lawyers say, perhaps even in Canada.

The abuse occurred at a number of schools operated by the Congregation of Holy Cross and date back to the 1950s:

The agreement applies to three Quebec institutions that are now defunct — Montreal’s College Notre-Dame between 1960 and 2001; College Saint-Cesaire, located south of Montreal, between 1960 and 1991; and Ecole Notre Dame in the Lower St. Lawrence region (1959-1964).

At least 85 people are thought to be eligible for compensation. Lawyers believe that number could be much higher, but that many victims are likely too traumatized to come forward.

The revelation that abuse occurred in the Congregation’s schools took some time to be noticed. In the 90s one of the victims, René Cornellier Jr., wrote letters to the Congregation school he had attended, asking for them to own up to it, but he died shortly after that, so the matter wasn’t pursued. Those letters turned up when the Montreal Gazette went looking for evidence of abuse in Congregation schools. Cornellier’s abortive efforts were posthumously recognized in the agreement:

As part of the settlement, Rene Cornellier Jr. will also have a $100,000 scholarship named after him, in recognition of his role as the first victim to denounce the school.

The Congregation also apologized for the abuse, but — as is typical — never bothered to explain why it allowed the abuse in the first place, or how it could have been going on for decades, right under their noses … especially since they’d been put on notice about it at least in the mid-90s, via Cornellier’s letters. Once again, a Roman Catholic organization reveals its total moral bankruptcy by “apologizing” only when it’s coerced to do so, and only in minimal fashion, in spite of the fact that the R.C. Church represents itself as the planet’s sole remaining arbiter of morality.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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