Diocese Apologizes for Failure to Protect Sexual Abuse Victims

CBC News [Canada]
August 3, 2006

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London, Ont., has apologized for its failure to protect 47 women who were sexually abused by a former parish priest.

The apology follows 83-year-old Charles Henry Sylvestre's guilty plea Thursday to 47 charges stemming from sexual assaults against young females between 1954 and 1990.

In a one-page press release, Archbishop Ronald Fabbro said he sincerely apologizes "to the victims and their families for the abuse that they endured at the hands of Father Sylvestre, and for suffering the consequences of that abuse over the years."

He also apologized "for the failure of the Church to protect the victims and their families from Father Sylvestre."

In the past, the Diocese had refused to publicly acknowledge the case.

The Archbishop also announced that he'll attend mass at a church in Chatham, Ont., on Sunday to address the matter.

One of Sylvestre's victims said the Diocese only apologized when "its back was up against the wall."

"This is 2006, and they have been aware of me, and other victims since far before that," the 44-year-old woman said.

"And this apology comes August 3rd, 2006? It's a little too late. And so, if they want to do something, they have to do something concrete, because we've heard these hollow words for ever and ever. They need to do something concrete. They need to show us that they're sorry."

Some of Sylvestre's victims were as young as nine years old when the assaults took place. All the incidents occurred in parishes throughout southwestern Ontario, including Windsor, London, Sarnia, Chatham-Kent and Pain Court.

Retired Ontario priest pleads guilty to 47 sex charges


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