Abbot resigns while the Abbey faces problems
(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MAY 3, 2022)
Westminster Abbey in Mission, British Columbia has announced the resignation, effective May 3, 2022, of Abbot John Braganza, OSB after working in this role for 16 years. According to the B.C. Catholic news, the decision was made after months of personal and community discernment.
We can’t help but think that the current civil lawsuit, naming the Abbey as a defendant, may have played a role in the abrupt resignation of Braganza. Mark O'Neill, a man who claims he was sexually assaulted as a high school seminarian plans to appear in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday to seek records from the Vatican's representative in Canada about the monk who he claims abused him. The application follows the emergence in O'Neill's case of an anonymous letter allegedly sent decades ago to the former head of the abbey that runs the seminary, warning about the now-deceased Benedictine monk at the heart of the lawsuit. O'Neill is suing the seminary, which is owned by the Benedictines and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver.
It is interesting to note that the statement released by the Abbey, mentions concerns regarding "his (Braganza) interpersonal relations” and yet highlights that “there are no allegations of sexual misconduct or of any misconduct with minors.” We urge the Abbey or any church official to define “concerns surrounding interpersonal relations.” If there was some impropriety involving Abbot Braganza, that information needs to be immediately disclosed.
In any case, we sound a second alarm for “change and renewal” and encourage church officials to ensure the Abbot and any others with knowledge of abuse or history at the Abbey not be shielded from depositions during the lawsuit and should be made to answer questions regardless of their current employment status.
CONTACT: Leona Huggins, SNAP Leader Vancouver – British Columbia, (604-240-3741, [email protected]) Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communication Manager ([email protected]), 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)