Catholic church in Canada blames sex assault victims' difficulties on economy

A Catholic archdiocese in Canada has blamed the difficulties that child sex abuse victims are experiencing on the economy rather than on the priests accused of committing the acts decades ago.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Nelro2)Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. 15 May 2010.

The Archdiocese of Moncton in New Brunswick has filed two new documents in court where it claimed it should not  be forced to pay the victims any compensation whether or not the abuse really happened. The papers also said that it was because of economic, linguistic, and other factors that the victims were having trouble working, CBC News reported.

The Catholic church's statements were made in response to a  number of civil lawsuits concerning the child sex abuse allegedly committed by former priests Camille Leger and Yvon Arsenault. The latter was imprisoned for four years after confirming that he had  molested young boys in the 1970s. However, Leger died in 1991 before the accusations surfaced.

The archdiocese claimed that the accusations against Leger were "without foundation or merit" as the complaints did not surface long after he died. It also added that it had indeed provided pastoral care for the victims and called the lawsuits "unreasonable."

For Moncton lawyer Rene LeBlanc, who represents some of the victims, the archdiocese's statements were insulting.

"That basically people in Cap Pelé weren't going to amount to anything anyway, so, you know, we shouldn't have to pay loss of income," LeBlanc said. "Frankly, I find it terribly insulting for the community."

Last month, Archbishop Valery Vienneau said 20 out of the 53 parishes in the archdiocese could undergo imminent closure because of its declining church attendance. The trend is an effect of the sex abuse cases the church has been embroiled in, The Catholic Register reported.

The archdiocese has already shelled out $10.6 million as settlement for the sex abuse cases. The payments have reportedly weighed down the finances of parishes, especially at a time when offertory collections and church attendance was low.