Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 13, 2006
Priest could face more abuse charges
Vatican offical may face extradition
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
A Canadian priest, believed to be the first Vatican official charged with sexual abuse, could face more charges and extradition from Italy if he does not respond to police requests to return.
Msgr. Bernard Prince, 71, was charged last October following a complaint laid in May 2005 by a man who alleged the priest sexually assaulted him 35 years ago when he was 12 years old.
The incident was alleged to have taken place in 1969 during a retreat in Prince's cabin in Wilno, about 130 km west of Ottawa in the Pembroke Diocese, where Prince was ordained in 1963.
"There are other complaints and allegations that have been brought forward by separate people and those are still under investigation," Sgt. Kristine Rae-Cholette told CCN in a Feb. 7 phone interview from Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) eastern region headquarters in Smith's Falls.
"The complainants are from different areas throughout Ontario," she said. "Until the investigations on those are done, I can't give a number."
The alleged victim, now in his 50s, approached the Killaloe OPP to report the abuse.
After the investigation, police charged Prince under the 1969 Criminal Code with buggery and indecent assault of a male, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Despite the long time since the incident allegedly took place, Cholette said it was "not abnormal for the police to investigate historical sexual assaults."
When the Religion New Service (RNS) contacted Prince in the Italian town of Morlupo, 55 km north of Rome, he would not comment on the charges.
"I'm waiting for news from the lawyer," Prince said, according to RNS. "I've heard of no warrant and the lawyer hasn't either."
"I'm aware of (an investigation) going on, but I haven't spoken to anyone laying charges or who claims to be a victim," Father Peter Proulx, who handles sexual assault complaints for the Pembroke Diocese, told the Feb. 2 Ottawa Citizen.
Prince's long career included serving in parishes in Wilno, Pembroke and Arnprior, further education in Rome, and a posting at the apostolic nunciature in Ottawa, where he was serving around the time the alleged abuse took place.
He also worked at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and taught at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.
He also served as president of Canada's Canon Law Society and taught for a short time at Notre Dame.
From Saint Paul, he moved to Toronto to become director of Canada's Pontifical Mission Society.
In 1991, Prince left for Rome to join the Roman Curia.
He then became secretary-general of the Pontifical Work for the Propagation of the Faith. In that position he travelled widely, overseeing the funding and promotion of Catholic missionary work. He retired in 2004.
Prince, who was of Polish descent, was known for his close personal relationship to the late Pope John Paul II.