An 82 year old priest who was convicted and served time for molesting two British Columbia girls in the 1970’s has been assisting in an Ottawa parish for the past ten years without the knowledge of either the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Ottawa or the even the parish priest whom he had been assisting. The only one who knew about this man’s past was his Oblate religious superior, one of the “good old boys”, you might say.

The 82 year old priest pled guilty and served his time. He surely isn’t the same man, physically or psychologically, that he was forty years ago and he is now working in a parish made up of elderly parishioners and apparently, has no contact with children. With no reports of further misdeeds over the intervening years it seems as if he has rehabilitated himself. Should he be allowed to resume his priestly duties and earn God’s forgiveness by helping his fellow human beings? I’d say yes, but under proper supervision and not under false pretenses.

This is another example of how the Church is struggling to come clean with this sad chapter of its past. When the Vicar General of a diocese says he doesn’t have the details of an employee’s criminal past, it’s a cop out. Other professions have systems to protect the public in this regard and so should the Church, especially in view of its past record.

How secure can elderly parishioners feel when due to a shortage of priests they are often forced to deal with individuals who drop in on a casual basis. Ever heard of Elder Abuse?