Catholic Vancouver December 11, 2020
Vancouver archdiocese updates progress on sexual abuse cases
The Archdiocese of Vancouver has released the most comprehensive update on sexual abuse by priests to date since its initial report in 2019.
The update, released Dec. 11, provides a progress report on 31 recommendations made last year and includes the names of three priests involved in abuse settlements that have not been previously published.
The priests named are John Edward Kilty, Johannes Holzapfel, and Armand Frechette.
Father Kilty served in the Archdiocese of Vancouver from 1945 to his death in 1983. Father Holzapfel was born and ordained in Germany but served in the archdiocese for periods of time from 1955 to 1974. Father Frechette served at Our Lady of Lourdes from 1953-1970.
In the cases of Fathers Kilty and Frechette, allegations mentioned include abuse of minors. For all three priests, allegations surfaced after their deaths, sometimes more than 20 years later.
The update said while the subject matter and findings are “troubling,” responses received to the 2019 report were “positive overall” and “much good has come” from publishing the news.
“We understand that some people think that we should speak less about this issue because it may seem that it feeds into an ‘anti-faith’ narrative … others, including some victims/survivors, think that we are still not doing enough to address the issue,” the report says.
“We believe that greater transparency allows us to reach and care for more victims/survivors while increasing vigilance and safe environments within our parishes.”
Since last year’s report, 13 victims/survivors of abuse previously unknown to the archdiocese have come forward to report their experiences.
The progress report shares recommendations that have been implemented since 2019, including establishing an independent intake office, staffing a clergy review board with a majority of lay people, and removing all known memorials, honours, and public celebrations of priests known to have abused. The report acknowledges that with the vast amount of content published online, some may have been missed.
The archdiocese has also formed a committee to study and improve priestly formation and informed all religious orders that have sent priests to work in Vancouver about their priests who have been accused of clerical sexual abuse.
The update also lists several recommendations that have not been fully implemented. (See the full report at www.rcav.org/abuse-crisis/abuse-report).
Some clergy files are still under review by independent investigators. The archdiocese said in some cases there are ongoing legal processes that must be complete before more information from those files can be published.
The progress report was originally to be released in late March, but the archdiocese said pandemic-related bans on gatherings affected its ability to host in-person meetings and investigations.
“We hope that 2021 will offer the opportunity to make better progress and engage more fully with victims/survivors and others within the Church and the broader community.”
Archbishop J. Michael Miller released a comment today, saying, “We again want to acknowledge the deep suffering of the victims and their loved ones and I apologize to each of them for the trauma caused by the abuse by a priest. They are in my prayers.”
To report clergy sexual abuse, contact the independent reporting office at 604-363-7338.