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Priest Johannes Rivoire, accused of sexual assault, will not be dismissed from the Oblates

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Johannes Rivoire arrived in Nunavut in the 1960s and he returned to France in 1993.


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Oblate authorities in Rome have ruled that priest Johannes Rivoire, who faces accusations of sexual assault against children in Nunavut, will be able to remain a member of the congregation.

Johannes Rivoire, now in her 90s and living in Lyon, France, faces long-standing sexual charges for events that took place while he was working in Nunavut.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), the Oblates of the Province of France, and OMI Lacombe Canada have requested in 2022 the authorities of the congregation in Rome to initiate dismissal procedures against priest Rivoire, after his refusal to return to Canada to face the charges against him.

I am very disappointed, said Reverend Ken Thorson, of OMI Lacombe Canada, in reaction to their decision.

An arrest warrant was issued earlier this year for indecent assault involving a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove, Nunavut, between 1974 and 1979. French authorities refused the extradition request from Canadian judicial authorities.

The priest had also escaped justice by refusing to return to Canada after having been the subject of a warrant arrest in 1998. He faced at least three sexual abuse charges in the communities of Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Naujaat.

These charges were stayed more than 20 years later. Canada's Public Prosecution Service said at the time that this was partly due to France's refusal to extradite the priest.

Johannes Rivoire refutes all of these allegations, and none have been proven in court.

Inuit leaders and politicians continue to put pressure on the priest to be brought to justice. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed says he has asked Pope Francis to speak directly to Priest Rivoire in 2022, during a visit by an indigenous delegation to the Vatican.

A delegation of 10 people, led by Nunavut Tunngavik inc. – a group representing the Inuit of Nunavut – also went to France in 2022 and spoke to Johannes Rivoire, asking him to return to Canada.

This group claims that more than 60 children were allegedly abused by the priest.

Last year, nearly a dozen members of BeBraveFrance, the French section of a global movement defending victims of pedophilia, demonstrated in front of the retirement home where Mr. Rivoire lived. He has since been relocated to the administrative house of the Oblates in Lyon because of the attention he received in this retirement home, said the Rev. Ken Thorson.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate claim to have repeatedly asked Johannes Rivoire to face the accusations, which he allegedly refused.

Ken Thorson points out that the disciplinary procedures included two warnings and a formal recommendation. Mr. Rivoire's lawyer cited his fragile state of health, such as medical advice advising against air travel of more than an hour, as the reason for his refusal to return to Canada, according to Mr. Thorson.

It was by taking into account his state of health that the Oblate administration in Rome did not was not dismissed from the congregation, adds Mr. Thorson.

His dismissal would not have forced him to return to Canada, says Mr. Thorson, but it would have represented a symbolic gesture on the part of the Church in its commitment to accountability and reconciliation.

I recognize that we missed opportunities to take what could have been healing steps in this case, says Ken Thorson.

I regret it.

He hopes that an independent investigation into the allegations faced by Johannes Rivoire and the way the Oblates handled the situation could still bring some justice to the matter.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), OMI Lacombe Canada and the Oblates of the Province of France have in Indeed mandated retired judge André Denis to lead the Oblate Safeguarding Commission, which aims to shed light on how the allegations against the priest were handled within the Catholic congregation.

The Commission also aims to identify improvements to Oblate policies and governance in order to to better protect minors and allow greater accountability.

This commission will also review the circumstances surrounding the departure from Canada by Johannes Rivoire.

With information from The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116