Former Saskatoon priest charged with sexual abuse

CBC Radio 1 mentioned 89 year old William Hodgson Marshall this morning so I went hunting for more information. From CBC I learn he’s in custody in Kingston, Ontario and awaiting trial:

Marshall was a priest, basketball coach and mathematics teacher at St. Paul’s High School in Saskatoon between 1958 and 1961. The all-boys school, which was on the 400 block of 22nd St. E. downtown, closed in 1967.

On Tuesday, the Saskatoon police said Marshall has been charged in connection with indecent assaults that took place in 1959 and 1960.

The two alleged victims, now both 66 years old, were 14 at the time.

The Crown prosecutor’s office is arranging for a court appearance to take place in Ontario, Saskatoon police said.

In a written statement, Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen said the diocese was recently informed of the new charges.

“In all such cases, our first concern is for the suffering of those who have been abused. We are called to listen and to assist in whatever way possible as they move toward healing,” Bolen said.

Hmm. In other such cases I’ve read about, the Catholic church’s first concern has been to move the priest and/or pretend it never happened. Like in Memphis, and France, and Ireland and elsewhere. And, in a lot of cases, possibly all of them, it was a Vatican approved decision. These days the Vatican is under fire for not doing enough to protect victims and people are demanding a change. A New York Times article posted yesterday notes a conference finishing up in Europe where this has been the main issue being discussed.

Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org , said the conference was intended to “change the subject and look like progress.”

“The Vatican is afraid, and it has reason to be,” he said, in light of recent charges against the church, including a complaint filed against the Vatican with the International Criminal Court.

The conference, which began on Monday and runs for four days, drew about 200 delegates, more than half of them bishops but also victims, rectors of Catholic universities and religious superiors. Cardinal William J. Levada, who heads the Vatican office that deals with allegations of clerical abuse, said Monday in his keynote speech that over 4,000 cases of sexual abuse of minors had been reported to his office in the past decade as the church toughened its responses. “We are still learning,” he said. “We need to help each other find the best ways to help victims, protect children,” and to educate priests “to be aware of this scourge and to eliminate it from the priesthood.”

Would step one be to boot out the priests known to be doing it and let the police and courts make mincemeat out of them? Put the ones suspected on some kind of probation where they’re never allowed to be alone with young boys? Apologize profusely for letting this get so out of hand and then offer to build and fund (but not operate) real counseling centers where real psychologists and other professionals won’t resort to prayer as a band-aid fix-it-all? That’s just off the top of my head, of course. I don’t know what they’ll actually decide on as a course of action.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this.

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