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.

One Response to Former Saskatoon priest charged with sexual abuse

  1. Letter in The Toronto Sun …

    WHY WORRY ABOUT PLANET?
    Too large a portion of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s supporters unfortunately are his fellow theological devotees. I find it “unfortunate” because that portion enables anti-science policies to be passed and enforced by his theologically-inclined MPs, whose fundamental Scriptural beliefs are essentially a threat to healthy, life-sustaining Canadian eco-systems. If Harper’s biblical convictions are any indication, healthy and pristine Earthly eco-systems apparently are of no actual science-based concern. For, according to the Book of Revelation, Earth’s surface is to eventually, perhaps even imminently, be laid complete waste for a considerable period of time — if not permanently. It might all be true in the end, whenever that would be in the natural course of our planet and all of its life-forms, but that’s certainly no excuse to insanely justify screwing the environment in advance. Mentality in translation, perchance: Why the hell worry about an unhealthy state of the planet’s environment — especially when there are so many jobs to be had?
    FRANK G. STERLE, JR.
    WHITE ROCK, B.C.

    (Editor’s response: Got it. Harper and his supporters are working to bring on Armageddon. Brilliant argument! Seriously)

    Editor,
    I didn’t just pull that “Brilliant argument!” out of my ass.
    As one who’s spent some early years (late 1980s) very extensively, avidly consuming much fundamentalist Christian preaching and teaching, including the evangelical sort of which Harper and many of his MPs claim to be devout followers, it’s clear that such theology does not at all concern itself with a healthy, pristine Earth eco-system, the latter which is generally well-aligned with scientific caution.
    I learned that for myself: There was much environmentalist/ism bashing with God-condemnation – via zealous “Christian” political talk-show hosts and guests. However, literally absolutely nothing was ever mentioned at all regarding mass polluters, for The Bible was/is somehow perversely translated into somehow supporting or excusing such mass pollution.
    As national head-honcho, Stephen Harper, so far, has proven himself very much like-minded with the said “Christian” radio political/social/(non)environmental thinkers.
    “Seriously,” name one single actual act of environmental caution performed by Harper and his econo-euphoric ilk.
    In hindsight, I could’ve worded the missive more tightly – although the thesis statement would’ve been the very same. Of course, nobody is “working to bring on Armageddon”; however, there are aplenty “Christians” — just like Harper but fortunately without his power and control — who don’t take Earthly eco-system concerns at all seriously. Why? Because Rush Limbaugh, etcetera, says that it’s all some sort of ruse involving naught but false cries of wolf?
    At very first, I was really surprised that you published a first letter of mine – until it became clear as to why, and thus it would almost certainly be the last … unless you can easily twist my thesis statement into a smartass closing Ed comment.
    It’s truly a shame that you cannot find it within yourself – unlike your Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and even Calgary (home of Harper) counterparts – to be genuinely open to contrary perspectives than those of your own and perhaps those of your corporate masters.
    Sincerely,
    Frank G. Sterle, Jr.

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