Catholic Church to help bring accused priest to justice, Obed says
Johannes Rivoire is facing a new sexual assault charge after previous charges stayed in 2017
The Roman Catholic church will help bring to justice a French priest, Rev. Johannes Rivoire, accused of sexually assaulting children during his time in Nunavut.
Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, made the announcement Friday after Pope Francis delivered an apology for abuses suffered by Indigenous people in Canada’s residential school system.
The Pope’s apology came on the final day of a week of meetings with Indigenous leaders from Canada, including seven Inuit delegates led by Obed.
Rivoire, 93, is accused of abusing children during his time working in communities across the Kivalliq region of Nunavut decades ago.
“We have worked with the Catholic Church and they have expressed their willingness to work with us to ensure justice is served in this particular case,” Obed said.
It’s not clear whether this commitment will include bringing Rivoire to Canada to face a new sexual assault charge, which was laid against him in February. Earlier charges against him were stayed in 2017, after the Public Prosecution Services of Canada concluded there was no reasonable chance of conviction.
Earlier this week, Obed urged Francis to speak to Rivoire, who is reportedly living in France, and ask him to return to Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the Pope’s apology during a virtual meeting Friday morning where he announced $214 million to improve Iqaluit’s municipal water system.
“We look forward to him coming to Canada to deliver that apology in person,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau paid tribute to the “tremendous amount of bravery and determination” of Indigenous advocates and others who have pushed the Vatican for years to apologize for the church’s role in Canada’s residential school system.
Those schools were created in the late 1800s to separate Indigenous people from their communities, culture and language but some continued to operate until the 1990s.
Last summer, Canada faced a reckoning with its residential school history when hundreds of bodies of children were located in unmarked graves near some schools, prompting Indigenous leaders to demand the government and churches be held accountable for the deaths of children at those schools.