(Montreal) In a report released Monday, the Ombudsman of the Archdiocese of Montreal, Me Marie Christine Kirouack, denounces the “endless” delays and other problems in the processing of complaints likely to undermine confidence in the process.
The Ombudsman, who highlighted an “improvement of the process” in his previous report in August, notes that “this is no longer the case”. His office handles complaints of sexual, physical, psychological, financial, and spiritual abuse, among others.
She cites, for example, letters that have not been sent, suspensions that have not been decreed, and an investigation that has not been initiated months after recommendations to this effect.
“These delays worry and weaken our complainants and call into question all their confidence in the complaints processing system”, deplores Ms.e Kirouak,
Since taking office in May 2021, the Ombudsman has received 188 complaints, including 41 relating to sexual abuse. Other complaints are not aimed at members of the clergy, but rather concern the holding of funerals and genealogical research, for example.
The Ombudsman adds that his archivist, an employee essential to his work, was threatened with dismissal after “having dared to ask for a raise” which had been promised to him. Another employee of the diocese filed a complaint with the Bar against Mr.e Kirouack after temporarily suspending the archivist’s computer access.
“By taking this job, I knew I would not gain popularity, but from there to being the subject of complaints to the Bar, there is a margin,” she wrote in her report.
The Ombudsman makes a connection between these impediments and the fact “that with the unfailing help and support of the archivist, I found more and more files which had not been dealt with satisfactorily by the past and even contemporary lists of sexual abusers (on minors and on adults) in which it was decided not to act”.
Me Kirouack also denounces the fact that it took nearly three months and as many complaints on his part before he relieved of his duties an episcopal vicar who was the source of external leaks of emails containing confidential information on the complainants. The vicar also interfered in the complaint process in defiance of established protocol, writes the Ombudsman.
These incidents are also cited by Judge Pepita Capriolo, the source of a damning report on the sexual abuse of priest Brian Boucher in 2020, in her letter of resignation from the Transition Committee responsible for implementing the report’s 31 recommendations. .
“My confidence has been damaged by all of these dysfunctions which have persisted despite my numerous interventions”, writes Judge Capriolo in her missive of December 7. “I cannot continue to participate in a proceeding that is subject to conflicting pressures. »
The Archdiocese declined to answer questions from The Press “in order to respect” the independence of the Ombudsman.