Catholic Priest Charged with Assaulting an 8yr-old in Canada; SNAP reacts
(For Immediate Release May 31, 2023)
A Catholic priest has been charged with sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in Little Grand Rapids First Nation, and Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) believe that there may be additional victims. Our hearts go out to this very young child.
We cannot help but think of her innocence as she describes the horror inflicted on her to the police. We hope that she is receiving much-needed support and assistance from family members and trusted professionals. We also hope that this example will motivate more survivors and witnesses to come forward and report the incident to authorities. We call on Archbishop Albert LeGatt to do aggressive outreach to all the communities where this priest worked and encourage anyone with information to immediately report what they know to law enforcement.
The RCMP has Fr. Arul Savari in custody. The cleric is a native of India and an order priest of the Society of St. Eugene De Mazenod (SDM). Fr. Savari is listed as a parochial administrator at St. John the Evangelist and he also worked in nearby Pauingassi First Nation. The clergyman is reported to have been in Canada for the last six years.
We are concerned about the expanding number of foreign orders occupying vacant positions in dioceses across Canada, the United States, and the world. It is far too easy to drop a foreign priest into a Canadian or American congregation by using religious visas, with little, if any, scrutiny of their backgrounds. We hope that the RCMP will consider this aspect of the case in their investigation.
According to the SDM order's website, they "strive to seek out, befriend, and respect as sisters and brothers, the abandoned poor with their many faces: the weak, unemployed, uneducated, victims of addictions, sick, marginalized, immigrants, and minorities." To us, this image of a fragile society is precisely where predatory priests hunt for victims to assault. Today, about 5,000 SDM Oblate priests and brothers can be found in more than 60 countries across the world.
Despite the Catholic Church's claims that clergy sex abuse is a thing of the past, this current arrest follows the pattern of two arrests per month that we have observed for years. It is highly likely that there are more hidden abusers in Canada. Anyone with information or who wishes to make a report related to Fr. Savari is asked to call the RCMP in Little Grand Rapids at 204-397-2249.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)