Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 26, 2009
Sexual assault charges against Fr. Don Bodnar are stayed
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Charges of sexual assault and sexual interference against popular Edmonton-area priest Father Don Bodnar have been stayed.
Father Gregory Faryna, chancellor of the Edmonton Ukrainian Eparchy, said Crown attorneys asked for a stay of proceeding on Sept. 29. While the Crown has one year to proceed with further action, it is rare for that to happen.
CHARGED IN JANUARY
Charges were filed in January regarding incidents that allegedly happened between Sept. 16 and 27, 2008 in the Edmonton area. Bodnar was charged with sexual assault and sexual contact with a minor. A minor is anyone under the age of 16.
"A stay of proceeding often means that either the case itself or the evidence was in some way incomplete or questionable and instead of coming to court with incomplete or questionable evidence you put a stay on it," Faryna noted.
Bodnar is still on administrative leave and Faryna was asked if the priest will return to the ministry.
"Obviously we want to help Father Don work on his ministry," Faryna said.
"Don is a good priest. When an accusation comes, we certainly have to be serious with the information, to take it seriously, but at the same time not to jump to conclusions because there are all kinds of extenuating circumstances happening in this particular case."
The chancellor said he had met with the bishop Oct.20 and "after consultation with Crown prosecution and with our own lawyers, it looks as if Father Don will return to some sort of ministry and that still has to be determined."
Bodnar was the pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Athabasca district and "as in any parish or district, there are always people on all sides of the issue," said Faryna.
GOOD CHURCH BUILDER
"Father Don is very much a good church builder, especially in the district he is in. There are some parishes looking for young, energetic priests to help them move on and grow in their communities. And Father Don is very good in that regard."
Still, given the charges, Faryna agrees, "The regaining of trust after such an experience is an ongoing thing.
"Once an accusation is made, unfortunately in today's world, especially with clergy, there is the question whether a level of trust can be formed again, whether the accusation was true or whether it was false."
The chancellor said such an incident impacts the Church as a whole as well.
"All public persons are in the spotlight," said Faryna, "whether a person is a politician or a doctor or whoever, there is always a certain scrutiny a person goes through.
"When it comes to moral issues, clergy are under not just a microscope, but a neutron microscope because it really sheds light on the message which we are trying to share of Christ's love.
"If there is a defect in that message, then it is hurtful to the overall Church."
However, sometimes people jump to conclusions or choose not to forgive, he said. "That is a very dangerous thing for all of us to do at anytime."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.