Across the country, the Catholic church is under pressure to name abusers

Survivors of clergy abuse across Canada are mobilizing, with growing calls for greater transparency and accountability in the Catholic church over its handling of sexual abuse cases.

Actions span from London, Ont., where a group of survivors has published names of credibly accused priests, to St. John’s, where the archbishop is under pressure to release names, and Ottawa, where a petition to the House of Commons is calling for a public inquiry.

In Vancouver’s archdiocese, a review committee uncovered 36 sexual abuse cases over the past 70 years, from which nine names were published - the first such disclosure for a Catholic diocese in Canada. The report recommended creating a national review board to hold bishops accountable, and a nationwide registry of credible allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

Change has been slow in Canada. The Globe and Mail has reported that responses lag behind those of peer countries that have published numbers on the scale and nature of the problem, and established external boards to advise the church on safeguarding children. In the United States, the number of accused priests and religious-order members has surpassed 6,500, according to the website Bishop Accountability.

Dioceses in Canada should be more forthcoming about publishing names said Bob McCabe, a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest that occurred when he was 11 years old. “It’s absolutely essential that they do this. They have to open up their secret files,” he said.

He will meet with the bishop of Hamilton, Ont., next month, and ask him to release past and present names within the next six months. If the diocese refuses, he and other survivors plan to do so themselves. “They have to come up with a list, and stop moving priests around.”

The petition to the House of Commons seeking a public inquiry into the Catholic church’s handling of child sexual abuse has more than 700 signatures so far. The petition, started last month by Daniela Siggia in Welland, Ont., says the inquiry should ex...

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