Survivor calls on Archdiocese of St. John's to release names of accused priests

Gemma Hickey is a survivor of clergy abuse, and an advocate for other survivors of clergy abuse.  (Mark Cumby/CBC - image credit)
Gemma Hickey is a survivor of clergy abuse, and an advocate for other survivors of clergy abuse. (Mark Cumby/CBC - image credit)

Gemma Hickey wants the Catholic church to start naming names.

As a survivor of clergy abuse, and an advocate for other survivors, Hickey is tired of chasing down the church for information and pushing it to right historic wrongs.

Now they want to see the church lay it all out there for the public to see.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is Ground Zero when it comes to this type of abuse," said Hickey, who uses they/them pronouns. "When it erupted here in the '80s, it erupted everywhere else. And so that's why it's really important, particularly here, to have lists that contain the names of credibly accused priests."

CBC News has asked the Archdiocese of St. John's for its response. We have not heard back as of publishing time.

Hickey — who founded the groups Pathways and ACTS Canada to advocate for survivors of clergy abuse — was glad to see another Catholic organization, the Jesuits of Canada, publish a list earlier this week.

It included 27 names, and the parishes or schools where each man worked. It met most of the criteria Hickey and other advocates have been calling for. They want to see groups list all cases where a priest was criminally convicted, charged but not convicted, or a case was settled out of court.

While plenty of priests in Newfoundland and Labrador have already been outed publicly through the media or the courts, Hickey said it doesn't come close to the full extent of the problem. Their group has been collecting information from across the country, including many cases where confidentiality agreements were signed and cases remained out of the public eye.

In some of those cases, Hickey said, priests were allowed to continue working.

"This is a matter of public safety," they said. "People shouldn't have to wonder when they go into church whether or not the bishop covered it up, or whether or not their priest is is a predator, you know. And this is where we're at. This is why it's so important."

The Jesuits list did include one connection to Newfoundland.

It lists Lorne Trainor, a priest who was ordained in 1960 that worked at Gonzaga High School. Trainor died in 2000. The Kinkora, P.E.I., native is listed under a section with other priests who faced multiple allegations of abuse.

If the Archdiocese of St. John's released its own list, Hickey said people in the province could begin to understand the full scope of the problem.

Newfoundland and Labrador was rocked by allegations of clergy abuse starting with Father Jim Hickey's conviction in 1988. Allegations began to flood out afterwards, culminating with revelations of systemic abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage.

Even with so many criminal trials and public allegations, Hickey believes there are many more the public knows nothing about.

"We've only scratched the surface," Hickey said. "Release names of credibly accused priests. It's a matter of public safety. Do the right thing."

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