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Monday, July 02, 2007

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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Just ask Mayor Mike Bradley.

In a recent interview with CBC radio about the St. Peter's Church closure, the mayor said lawsuits launched by children who were sexually assaulted by the Catholic clergy had contributed, in part, to the demise of St. Peter's.

It's a logically-drawn conclusion and one no one can argue with, but it's one that local sexual abuse survivors took exception to.

A lawyer representing victims of the notorious Father Charles Sylvestre an area priest who stole the innocence of so many young girls has publicly chastised the mayor for his comments.

One of his victims told The Observer that the mayor made the victims feel guilty.

That's easy to understand. The children that pedophiles prey upon suffer in silence for many years sometimes their whole lives reliving the dark inner tragedy that is the legacy of abuse.

It's a wound that never truly heals, so it's easy to see why survivors are sensitive to any suggestion the closure of St. Peter's Church could somehow be their fault.

The lawsuits are just part of the puzzle. A shortage of priests, huge inefficient buildings and a dwindling number of parishioners are all contributing to the Catholic Church's decline.

Mayor Mike Bradley is simply calling a spade a spade and his comments in no way, shape or form place blame on the victims of Father Sylvestre, or of any priest for that matter.

When it comes to its litigation troubles, the Catholic Church, including the Diocese of London, is merely suffering the consequences of its actions. Acts of pedophilia lead to lawsuits.

What the Catholic Church faces today is not unlike the problems of the Anglican Church when it was forced to respond to its own legacy of residential school abuse.

Settlements made to residential school survivors financially crippled that church.

It's too early to tell what effect the current round of lawsuits will have on the Catholic Church, even if it's clear what the impact has been on the victims of sexual abuse.

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