Diocese Expresses Regret for Abuse

By Jane Sims
London Free Press [Canada]
July 6, 2006

In the wake of a long prison sentence dealt a sexually abusive Roman Catholic priest, the diocese of London has added its regret and concern.

But critics say they want a more concrete response from the church to ensure abuse of children ends.

The diocese said in a written statement on the case of Konstanty Przybylski that it "deeply regrets the hurt his actions have caused the victims, theirfamilies and the entire community."

Przybylski, 56, known as "Father Konny" to parishioners, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for three sex-related crimes involving altar boys at St. Cecilia's parish in Port Dover.

It's one of the longest sentences ever given a Catholic cleric in the region.

The victims, Philippe-Alexandre Lauriault and Trevor Kannawin, both 24, had a court-imposed publication ban on their identities lifted. They each have launched $3.1-million civil lawsuits against the priest and the diocese of London.

In its statement, the diocese said it "abhor(s) all acts of sexual abuse, particularly abuse perpetrated by clergy."

It pledged "to work hard" to keep safe its parish communities, especially children.

"I think we're trying our best" to address the needs of victims hurt in abuse cases, Bishop Tony Daniels said yesterday.

Daniels said he publicly apologized to St. Cecilia's parishioners after Przybylski's guilty pleas this year.

The diocese's sexual abuse committee continues to offer and give counselling and support to Przybylski's victims.

"We will work with anybody who comes forward looking for some form of compensation or perhaps a more tangible sign of our sorrow and our desire to bring healing, whether it is through the legal process or not," he said.

In the Przybylski case, he said he hopes the church and victims can mediate a settlement.

Przybylski's status as a priest will be decided by Rome, Daniels said, but added, "Father Konny will never function publicly as a priest for the rest of his life."

The diocese has completed its investigation and a report will be sent to the Vatican.

The church is also better educating seminarians on human development and relationships.

Daniels said he's aware of public criticism of Przybylski living in the St. Martin's parish rectory.

He said the diocese wanted to move Przybylski once a second victim in the case came forward, but the courts wouldn't allow a change of address.

Child abuse victim John Swales of London, who won a large civil judgment against the church and has called for more help for victims, said he fears for the two Port Dover men who came forward.

He said he believes they'll suffer "overwhelming effects" from the abuse and is disappointed at the church's response.

"It's an epidemic. There's a lot of affected people. What is the church going to do about it?" he asked.

"There's way too much window dressing. I want to know what are you going to do to solve the problems."

Civil lawyer Rob Tallach, who represents the Przybylski victims, said their main concern is the church not allow such crimes to happen again.

"We need to know from the bishop what concrete steps the diocese is going to take to make sure these things don't happen in the future," he said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.