Canada: Two religious orders face off in court

Canada: Two religious orders face off in court

The charitable order of the Montreal Gray Nuns has asked a Canadian court to compensate the congregation of Holy Cross if it has to pay victims of sexual abuse by clergy. This is part of a class action lawsuit that has been approved against the women’s order.

The legal issue was at the center of a November 16 court hearing in Montreal involving two religious orders. Quebec Superior Court Judge Suzanne Courchesne approved the class action lawsuit in March, saying it aims to cover “any person or property of a deceased person” who owns any of the three locations owned by the Gray Nuns in Montreal. claims to be on. Zone for being a “victim of sexual abuse and/or physical abuse and/or mental abuse”.

These locations include the Crèche d’Euville Day Care, the Notre-Dame de Lycee School, and the Montreal Catholic Orphanage. The court seeks to award compensation to victims who were committed to one of the two institutions between 1925 and 1973.

One of these victims, Jacques Beaulieu, suffered physical and psychological abuse from both religious and lay people while he was at the Notre-Dame de Lycee school run by a female religious. She alleges that a priest sexually assaulted her.

the allegations

Court documents show that on Sunday the nuns handed the boy and some other children over to a priest, who took them in his car to “drive them to Mass”. Court records say the priest took the opportunity to sexually abuse the children. The priest has been identified as Father Conrad Laroche of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Father Laroche was chaplain in 1967 and 1968, and also taught at the College Saint-Laurent from 1947 to 1967. He died on 16 September 2000 at the age of 80.

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Lawyers for the Gray Nuns claim that the Congregation of Holy Cross must “answer for the wrongs of its employees and thus be jointly and severally liable if the alleged misconduct is proven”. The resolution stated that leaders of priestly congregations “should be held accountable for their lapses and omissions, whether to prevent the abuse or to perpetrate it, provided they have the full right and power to do so”, according to the Gray Nuns.

The Congregation of the Holy Cross issued a statement following the court hearing, emphasizing that it “strongly and unequivocally condemns all inappropriate actions affecting minors and vulnerable persons”. The community declined to comment further on the proceedings.

four hour trial

During the four-hour hearing, an important point of law was brought to the attention of the court by a lawyer for the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

The attorney noted that long before the class action lawsuit against the nuns was approved, the congregation of Holy Cross was already the subject of a separate class action lawsuit. The case pertains to victims who were abused by members of the congregation. Father Laroche is also mentioned. The fact that he is mentioned in two class action lawsuits leads to a series of disputes that must be resolved by a second judge in the Quebec Supreme Court.

The court must now decide whether the victim is entitled to two sets of damages after both class actions are approved. Another issue still to be decided is whether the court should exclude victims of the Holy Cross congregation from the class action lawsuit against the Gray Nuns and only accept cases against the Gray Nuns. Judge Pierre Nolet has announced that he will announce his decision in January.

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(UK – mg)

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