Sunday, July 18, 2010

20 years ago: Newfoundland's Roman Catholic Archbishop resigns in the wake of a scathing report on pedophile priests

On July 18, 1990, Newfoundland Roman Catholic Archbishop Alphonsus Penny announced that he had offered his resignation to Pope John Paul II following the release of a report that blamed church officials for ignoring and covering up sexual abuse by priests. "We are a sinful church," said Archbishop Penny, who had initiated the report by a five-member commission headed by former Newfoundland Lieutenant-Governor Gordon Winter.

The report found that high-ranking clergy were more concerned about the offenders than the victims, and attempted to cover up allegations that priests were sexually abusing boys. Much of the abuse took place at Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's. Among its 55 recommendations, the commission suggested that the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops examine such issues as compensation for abuse victims and the tradition of celibacy for priests.

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