Survivor is asking the Archdiocese of St. John’s to release the names of the accused priests
Gemma Hickey wants the Catholic Church to start naming.
As a survivor of clergy abuse and an advocate for other survivors, Hickey is tired of hunting the church for information and urging it to right historical wrongs.
Now they want to see how the church unfolds everything for the public.
“Newfoundland and Labrador is ground zero when it comes to this type of abuse,” said Hickey, who uses she/them pronouns. “When it broke out here in the 1980s, it erupted everywhere. That’s why it’s really important here to have lists that contain the names of priests who have been credibly accused.”
CBC News has reached out to the Archdiocese of St. John’s for a response. We haven’t heard anything at the time of publication.
Hickey – who founded the groups Pathways and ACTS Canada to advocate for survivors of clergy abuse – was pleased that another Catholic organization, the Jesuits of Canada, released a list earlier this week.
It included 27 names and the parishes or schools where each man worked. It met most of the criteria that Hickey and other proponents had called for. They want groups to list all cases where a priest has been criminally convicted, charged but not convicted, or a case settled out of court.
While many Newfoundland and Labrador priests have already been publicly outed by the media or the courts, Hickey said that doesn’t capture the full extent of the problem. Her group has gathered information from across the country, including many cases where non-disclosure agreements have been signed and cases have remained hidden from the public eye.
In some of those cases, Hickey said, the priests were allowed to continue working.
“It’s a matter of public safety,” they said. “People shouldn’t have to wonder, when they go to church, whether or not the bishop has covered it up, or whether or not their priest is a predator, you know. And here we are. That’s why it’s so important.”
The Jesuit list contained a connection to Newfoundland.
It lists Lorne Trainor, a priest who was ordained in 1960 and worked at Gonzaga High School. Trainor died in 2000. A native of Kinkora, PEI is listed in a section with other priests who have faced multiple allegations of abuse.
If the Archdiocese of St. John’s releases its own list, Hickey says people in the province could begin to understand the full extent of the problem.
Newfoundland and Labrador was rocked by allegations of abuse by clergy, beginning with the conviction of Father Jim Hickey in 1988. Allegations began to spill over thereafter, culminating in revelations of systematic abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage.
Despite so many criminal cases and public allegations, Hickey believes there are many more that the public is unaware of.
“We’ve only scratched the surface,” Hickey said. “Release the names of credibly accused priests. It’s a matter of public safety. Do the right thing.”
Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador