In a letter to parishioners of the Yarmouth diocese, the Halifax Roman Catholic Archbishop is appealing for understanding as to why the Church must pay settlements to victims of sexual abuse.
Six victims of sexual abuse will share a $1.5 million settlement. All six were sexually abused by priests Adolphe LeBlanc and Eddie Theriault, both now dead, during the 1950's and 1960's while the victims were between the ages of 3 and 16.
In his letter dated January 24, 2011, Archbishop Anthony Mancini wrote, "No one feels good about having to pay out settlements – yet that is the cost for the sins of our past. I wish it were otherwise, but the structure we have and the legal systems with which we must function must be respected and followed so that our legal obligations to victims of abuse can be met."
The letter came just a few days after it was announced that a deal had been struck for six victims. Negotiations are still underway for two more.
In an interview with Canadian Press, lawyer Paul Ledroit said a total of eight claims were filed by four men who claimed they were abused as children by Reverend Adolphe LeBlanc and also four women who claimed they were abused by Reverend Eddie Theriault.
Regarding the two priests, Mancini said in his letter, "The behaviour of these priests and their failures are criminal, immoral and shameful. There is no excuse for it and there is not much that can be done to change what has happened."
According to CBC News the Yarmouth diocese has been facing more than 20 cases of sexual abuse and it is not clear whether the diocese will have to sell properties to pay victim compensation.
Mancini said, "as a church, we will be stretched to the limits of our capacity to pay out settlements. We hope to survive, poorer yes, but alive nevertheless."
The Diocese of Yarmouth encompasses the five counties of Kings, Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, and Shelburne, Nova Scotia with approximately 36,000 parishioners.
Mr. Ledroit also told the Canadian Press that the six settlements did not contain a public admission of guilt.