Inuk man faces priest who allegedly abused him when he was a child

President of ‘Nunavut Tunngavik’ organization Aluki Kotierk (fifth right), Canadian politician and victim Steve Mapsalak (fourth right), daughter of a victim, Tanya Tungilikand (right) and fellow members of the Inuit delegation are welcomed by Father Vincent Gruber (left) at the ‘Oblats de Marie Immaculée’ (The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculte) religious congregation in Lyon, on Sept. 14.

An Inuk man who alleges he was sexually abused by a former Oblate priest in Nunavut when he was 13 years old says meeting the man face to face after nearly three decades was a relief.

Steve Mapsalak was part of a delegation led by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., a group representing Nunavut Inuit, that travelled to France last week to seek the extradition of Johannes Rivoire to Canada. The group met with French and Oblate officials, as well as with Rivoire himself.

Mapsalak, who was formerly mayor of Naujaat, Nvt., and served two terms as a member of the Nunavut legislature, said he initially had mixed feelings when he was approached to join the trip. He said he decided to face Rivoire as he believed it could be a healing experience.

“After I did and said what I needed to say to him, I felt a release inside me and I felt a lot better,” he said by phone from his home in Naujaat on Tuesday. “It’s helped me really very much.”

Inuk woman says she came forward to RCMP several times before charge laid against Father Johannes Rivoire

Mapsalak said he spoke to Rivoire, who is now 91 and lives in a care home in Lyon, in Inuktitut as he had spoken and understood the language when he lived in Nunavut.

“I told him I know that he knew exactly what he did to me when I was a child and when I was helpless.”

Mapsalak said Rivoire responded that he didn’t remember anything. He told the former priest he wanted an apology.

“That’s when I left the room, I couldn’t stand looking at him anymore.”

Mapsalak said the last time he saw Rivoire was at the airport in Winnipeg in 1993. He said Rivoire was leaving Canada following allegations that he had abused Inuit children.

“I didn’t get close to him but when he saw me I noticed that his face got really red,” he recalled.

Rivoire was an Oblate priest in Nunavut from the 1960s until 1993 when he returned to France. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. alleges he abused up to 60 children during that time.

The allegations have never been heard in court and Rivoire has denied any wrongdoing.

A Canadian warrant was issued for Rivoire’s arrest in 1998, but criminal charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of four children were stayed in 2017.

Following a new complaint, Rivoire was charged in February with one count of indecent assault of a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979. Canadian judicial authorities have sent an extradition request to France.

Although Canada and France share an extradition treaty, France does not traditionally extradite its citizens. During a meeting with the Inuit delegation, officials with the country’s Justice Ministry said extraditing a French national would violate a constitutional principle. The group said they do not agree that France is prohibited from extraditing its citizens.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate said they have repeatedly urged Rivoire to face the charges against him, but he has refused to return to Canada. As a result, Oblate leaders in France have said they have decided to dismiss Rivoire from their congregation.

Mapsalak said he still hopes to see Rivoire face justice in Canada.

Nadia Debbache, a French lawyer who is working with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. on the case, said she plans to file a complaint against the Oblates and pursue legal action for allegedly concealing a criminal.

“I am in the process of preparing this complaint so that all light may be shed on the behaviour of this congregation,” she wrote in an email.

Complete Article HERE!

Oblates dismiss Rivoire as retired priest denies abuse allegations at meeting with Inuit

Delegates surprised to learn retired priest would be at meeting with Oblates

Kilikvak Kabloona, the CEO of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., spoke to reporters after a meeting with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Lyon, France, on Wednesday.

By April Hudson

The delegates have been in France all week to call for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, who has been charged in Canada with sexual assault dating back to his time in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s.

The meeting with Rivoire was one the delegation had sought, but hadn’t received any word about until they were nearly at their destination in Lyon, France.

Kilikvak Kabloona, the CEO of Nunavut Tunngavik, said delegates were emotional when they heard who would be at the meeting.

“I ask you to respect that this is a very difficult time for the survivors, and they might not be willing to speak with you at this time,” Kabloona told media before the meeting.

“It’s a very difficult situation. We did not have a lot of time to prepare … It’s short notice for such a significant meeting.”

A group of people crowd around a cluttered table.
Father Vincent Gruber, second from left, with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, met with Inuit delegates from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in France on Wednesday.

After the meeting, Kabloona said delegates left through a different entrance.

Rivoire appeared to acknowledge and remember some of the delegates, including Steve Mapsalak, Kabloona said, but denied all charges of abuse.

“He is refusing to travel to Canada to face justice because of his skin condition,” she said. Rivoire told APTN in July he has eczema all over his body.

Rivoire worked in many Nunavut communities in the 1960s and 1970s, but returned to France in the early 1990s before he could be tried on abuse charges.

While some charges against him were stayed in 2017, the RCMP confirmed in March that more charges have been laid and they had issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.

Confronting Rivoire in person was ‘worth the whole trip’

After the meeting, Tanya Tungilik, who is among the delegates, recounted what it was like for her to see Rivoire in person.

“I just looked at him for about 10, 15 seconds just to take him all in, take this monster in. And then that’s when I started to speak. Well, more like yell at him about what he did to my father,” she said. “That I didn’t have a dad anymore because of him. That he ruined his life. And lots of other not nice words.”

Tungilik said she didn’t give him a chance to speak either.

“I didn’t want to hear anything he had to say nothing because I knew it was going to be all lies … I said what I wanted to say, what my dad always wanted to say.”

Tungilik said it was “liberating” and emotional to finally say it to his face.

“I went straight out the door, outside the back door and then I just cried the hardest. I haven’t cried that hard in a long time,” she said.

“Aluki [Kotierk] was holding me as I cried. Being able to do that was worth the whole trip. I don’t care if he doesn’t get extradited, if he dies. Saying what I needed to say to him meant everything to me.”

Oblates dismiss Rivoire from congregation

Father Vincent Gruber, who is with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, said the Oblates will continue trying to convince Rivoire to return to Canada, but don’t have the power to force him to go.

Speaking in French, Gruber said the Oblates have finally decided to dismiss Rivoire from their congregation. It will take a couple months to complete the process.

“This was after several refusals from him to collaborate [and go to Canada],” he said.

A man speaks into a microphone on a street.
Father Vincent Gruber, with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, speaks to media following a meeting Wednesday with Inuit delegates from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Gruber said the Oblates expressed to delegates Wednesday that they believe it’s important Rivoire stand trial “as much for the presumed victims, the Inuit people, but also for all the missionaries from the Oblates and the Catholic Church.”

Gruber said the Oblates plan to reach out to the Vatican next to see if they can put more pressure on Rivoire to return.

He said it was very difficult to get Rivoire to meet with victims because of his health and other reasons, but he eventually agreed to do so.

“It was very important for us that Rivoire listens to the presumed victims, because it’s his duty … We are happy that we insisted and he said yes,” Gruber said.

“We know that it doesn’t solve everything — we have a lot of work to do together.”

France still working with Canada, says justice ministry

The meeting with the Oblates comes a day after delegates had what they described as a disappointing meeting with French officials.

In that meeting, which did not involve France’s justice minister, delegates said they heard that extraditing Rivoire to Canada would violate France’s constitution, and that he couldn’t be tried in France on Canadian charges because the statute of limitations for the charges would have run out under French law.

Inuit leaders met with French officials in Paris to press for the extradition of ex-priest, Johannes Rivoire, who is facing charges of abuse in Nunavut. CBC Nunavut’s Teresa Qiatsuq met afterwards with Nunavut Tunngavik’s Aluki Kotierk, who said she is frustrated at the lack of political will in France to send this man to justice.

In a statement Wednesday, the French Ministry of Justice said the practice of not extraditing nationals is part of France’s “constitutional tradition.”

However, the ministry added, France has been working closely with Canada and has requested “all the elements necessary to establish the facts and to interrupt the period of limitation of public action.”

The ministry said France is ready to respond to any request for mutual legal assistance from Canada.

Complete Article HERE!

For Inuit delegates in France, facing alleged abuser together helped heal a deep wound

After an emotional few days in France, Steve Mapsalak speaks to reporters about his experience meeting with Johannes Rivoire.

By April Hudson

When Steve Mapsalak left the meeting with his alleged abuser on Wednesday, he felt a weight lift from inside him.

Mapsalak, one of the Inuit delegates from Nunavut who went to France this week to press for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, said Thursday the short-notice meeting with Rivoire brought memories flooding back to him.

It also gave him an opportunity to tell Rivoire face-to-face about the pain he and other delegates have gone through.

“It is still painful to have the memory when I see the building, the room [where the abuse happened]. And yet, when I was able to speak to him and share how deeply he had hurt us, I could feel that inside, the deep hurt I have carried for so long, some of it is lifted,” Mapsalak said in Inuktitut Thursday.

Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., translated Mapsalak’s words into English for a crowd of reporters.

“I will be returning to Canada, my community, a little bit lighter, to be back with my children,” Mapsalak said.

He said he still feels Rivoire needs to be returned to Canada to face trial.

Steve Mapsalak, left, Tanya Tungilik and Jesse Tungilik spoke to reporters in Lyon, France, on Thursday about their meeting with Johannes Rivoire.

Tanya Tungilik, whose father Marius Tungilik had accused Rivoire of sexual abuse, said it was “liberating” to finally tell Rivoire the things she has wanted to say for so long.

She left the room as soon as she finished speaking to him, and wept. With those tears, weight lifted from her as well, she said.

“Just the relief, and the anger and everything — I let it all out. Cried my hardest,” she said. “Saying what I needed to say to him meant everything to me.”

Nunavut Tunngavik — the group that sent the delegation to France — has said it has a plane ticket to Canada ready for Rivoire if he chooses to return voluntarily. Rivoire has repeatedly said he has no intention of coming back to Canada and that he denies the charges of abusing Inuit children in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Provincial House of the Oblates in Lyon, France.

Delegates met with Rivoire and other members of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on Wednesday in Lyon, France.

“Personally, I felt a great burden going into the room with Rivoire, wanting to articulate in a clear and persuasive manner how much it would mean for all of us if he would just get on the plane,” said Kotierk.

“I did share with him that we have an airplane ticket for him to get on the plane on Friday with us and that we deserve the truth and he needs to face justice.”

While France’s Justice Ministry said Wednesday it was ready to respond to any request from Canada for “mutual legal assistance” in regard to Rivoire, Canada’s justice department has yet to hear from France.

Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti said Thursday the Department of Justice “has not received any formal response from the French government.”

Canada has made a request to France to extradite Rivoire on charges of sexual abuse, though France has said it has a longstanding “constitutional tradition” of not extraditing nationals.

Complete Article HERE!

French Oblates plan to kick out Johannes Rivoire

NTI, victims of former Nunavut priest’s alleged abuse met with Rivoire Wednesday, demanding he return to Canada

Kilikvak Kabloona, NTI’s chief executive officer, speaks to the media following a meeting between Rev. Johannes Rivoire and the NTI delegation inside the French Oblates’ headquarters in Lyon, France, while David Aglukark, an NTI employee also part of the delegation, looks on.

By Emma Tranter

For years, Inuit in Nunavut have called for Rev. Johannes Rivoire to return to Canada to face justice over allegations of sexual abuse, but they were met with silence.

On Wednesday, one of the victims of his alleged abuse, Steve Mapsalak, and two children of another victim, Marius Tungilik, met face to face with the now 91-year-old priest, at the French Oblates’ headquarters in Lyon, France.

Rivoire, a Roman Catholic priest in Nunavut from 1960 through the early 1990s, was charged with historical sexual abuse in relation to allegations in 1998, but those charges were stayed in 2017.

RCMP laid a new charge of indecent assault against Rivoire earlier this year.

Rivoire left Canada in 1993 and has lived in France since. Even though France has an extradition treaty with Canada, French nationals are protected from extradition.

Rev. Vincent Gruber speaks to reporters outside the Oblates’ headquarters on Wednesday.

The delegation, which arrived in Paris on Monday, had just pulled into the Lyon train station on Wednesday when its members were notified Rivoire had agreed to meet with them.

Clearly emotional, delegation members took seats at a boardroom-style table in the French Oblates headquarters, sitting across from Rev. Vincent Gruber, who leads France’s Oblates, also known as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The delegation’s meetings with Rivoire — which lasted two hours — and with Gruber were both closed to the news media.

Gruber told reporters in French that the Oblates have begun the process of removing Rivoire from their congregation, a process that takes up to three months and that could go all the way to the Vatican.

Gruber said he had to act, given Rivoire’s repeated refusal to co-operate.

Members of the NTI delegation settle into the room where they met with Rev. Vincent Gruber before meeting with Rev. Johannes Rivoire in another room.

“He loses all his rights on our side,” Gruber said. “It’s because he didn’t obey the order to present himself to justice [in Canada].”

“I believe the victims. Since the beginning. I have no problem with that,” he added.

The meeting with Rivoire came less than 24 hours after the delegation, led by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., appealed again to French authorities for Rivoire’s extradition. That appeal was met with refusal.

Gruber also said the Oblates plan to appeal to the Vatican to push Rivoire to face his charge in Canada.
He said he believes it’s essential that Rivoire face justice in Canada.

“Not only for the presumed victims, for the Inuit Peoples, but also for the Oblate missionaries and the Catholic Church,” he said.

Gruber said the Oblates also want a commission to look into past actions and why there was so much “delay and silence” from the Catholic Church regarding the allegations against Rivoire.

Rivoire refused to speak to media who were waiting inside and outside the Oblates’ headquarters, though at one point it seemed like he might come out, Gruber said.

A view from the street of the French Oblates’ headquarters in Lyon, France.

Before NTI arrived in France on Monday, Rivoire had told the delegation through his lawyer that he would not meet with them.

Kilikvak Kabloona, NTI’s chief executive officer, told reporters that in the meeting, Rivoire denied all allegations of abuse.

“He does recall individuals in Nunavut and then he completely denies any allegations,” she said, adding language was not an issue.

“It is clear to me that Rivoire understands English. He acknowledges that he remembers Steve and other individuals in Naujaat,” Kabloona said.

“He had nodded his head when Steve was speaking, and yet he denies everything.”

Kabloona also said Rivoire speaks Inuktitut and that he understood Inuktitut when it was spoken in the room.

He refuses to travel to Canada because of his “skin condition,” Kabloona said.

Gruber said getting Rivoire to agree to the meeting was “very, very, very difficult.”

He said the Oblates plan to continue to urge Rivoire, who was still in the Oblates’ headquarters on Wednesday evening, to fly to Canada to face justice.
NTI, which is leading the delegation, has purchased a plane ticket for Rivoire to return to Canada on Friday with the delegation.

“I want to see Rivoire on that plane. That is clear,” Gruber said.

A view of the back of the French Oblates’ headquarters.

“We will speak with him again strongly … I can’t force him. I will do everything possible to try to convince him.”

Gruber was also clear that the Oblates are not paying for Rivoire’s living expenses, his lawyer or his pension.

“We are not paying for Rivoire for a very long time,” Gruber said. “We are determined to pursue our efforts to the maximum to convince Johannes to present himself to the Canadian justice system.”

The other members of the delegation declined to speak to media immediately following the meeting.

NTI is expected to hold a press conference in Lyon Thursday morning.

Complete Article HERE!

The Catholic Church is increasingly diverse – and so are its controversies


There is a lot of talk about “synodality” in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church.

In 2021, Pope Francis called for the “Synod on Synodality,” a worldwide discussion of issues that impact the church, which will culminate with a bishops’ meeting in Rome. A final report is scheduled for October 2023.

The Catholic Church in Germany has also moved forward with a national “synodal path” to restore trust after its own sexual abuse scandal.

The German synodal path has been controversial. On Sept. 8, 2022, a minority of German bishops blocked a motion to redefine Catholic teaching on homosexuality, bisexuality, gender identity and masturbation. In response, some proponents of these liberalizations warned they would “take it to Rome.”

Church leaders around the world and in the Vatican have closely watched the German meetings. There has been sharp debate over calls by German Catholics for priests to ordain women and bless same-sex unions. These proposals have been embraced by some German church bishops, but criticized by the Vatican as well as by an international group of 74 bishops.

As a scholar of global Catholicism, I believe this controversy reflects much wider tensions within Catholicism. In 1910, two-thirds of the world’s Catholics lived in Europe. Today, just one in four do. The church’s numbers have grown most quickly in Africa and Asia. As more power shifts to the global south, the church sometimes struggles to chart a path forward for all regions, each of which has its own distinct perspectives.

The German meeting spotlights particularly difficult topics about sexuality and women’s roles, where some Catholics in Europe, North America and Australia clash with Catholics elsewhere.

Continental divides

The Catholic Church is often assumed to look and feel the same everywhere. But Catholicism is culturally quite diverse.

The most public disagreement involves African Catholics and those in the United States and Europe. For example, Ghanaian Catholic bishops have criticized advocates for LGBTQ rights for imposing “their so-called values and beliefs.” Other African bishops have said they feel betrayed by liberal sentiments in European Catholicism, such as the push to allow Holy Communion for divorced church members.

People in white robes kneel near the altar in a brightly colored church with a teal and orange wall.
A bishop blesses worshippers during an early morning mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Yamumbi, Kenya.

Polygamy continues to be a pressing issue in some regions of Africa. While Catholic doctrine prohibits polygamy, polygamous unions are still common in many countries with significant Catholic communities.

A crucial question is how to welcome polygamous families into the church. Some African bishops have suggested that the church’s most important rites, called sacraments, should be available for at least some polygamous Catholics.

Tribalism also remains a challenge. For example, a Nigerian priest published a social media video asserting the superiority of the Igbo tribe. In rejecting such attitudes, other African priests have emphasized that African Catholics should draw on the philosophy of “ubuntu” that affirms collective belonging to humanity.

Looking East

Issues in Asia, home to 12% of Catholics, are diverse.

In Japan, for example, where Catholics make up less than 1% of the population, the main dilemma is how Catholics can maintain their community identity. In the Catholic-majority Philippines, recent meetings for the Synod on Synodality have focused on how poverty and corruption impact the Catholic community and the nation as a whole.

In India, where 20 million Catholics live, the Dalit Catholic community is especially important. Dalit means “oppressed” or “crushed” and refers to the marginalized groups once known as India’s “untouchables.” It was only recently that a Dalit, Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, was named a cardinal, even though Dalits have long made up a majority of India’s Catholics. Caste discrimination in the church is a reality that Dalit Catholics have joined together to protest.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in East Timor, where Catholics are 95% of the population, has experienced its own divisive sex abuse crisis connected with a highly regarded American priest.

A woman in a pink shirt and green sari touches a statue of the Virgin Mary covered with garlands of flowers.
Catholics offer prayers in front of a statue of Virgin Mary in Hyderabad, India.

Catholic churches in China face unresolved disputes over who has final say in the appointment of bishops – the Vatican, or the Chinese government. Also, there are continuing issues about the status of the underground Catholic churches, which worship outside the purview of the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

In parts of Oceania, climate change is an existential concern. The spread of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea remains an important issue as well.

Stronghold no longer?

Latin America is home to almost 40% of the world’s Catholics. But the rise of Protestantism has concerned many priests and laity. Many new Protestants in Latin America believe that evangelical and Pentecostal communities are more sensitive to their needs, prompting soul-searching for Catholics.

Another crucial question in Latin America is whether to ordain married men in regions where priests are scarce, like the Amazon. The Catholic church in Latin America still struggles with its colonial past and calls to apologize for that violent history. This legacy makes it particularly important to hear the voices of Indigenous peoples.

A global conversation

The worldwide Synod on Synodality is focused, in Pope Francis’ words, on creating a church that “walks together on the same road.”

It would be a mistake to see this “walking together” from an exclusively Western perspective. The debate in Germany reflects how ideologically divided Catholicism has become in the Western world alone. And it is not as though churches elsewhere are simply areas of potential problems or disagreements; their faith and rich theological traditions are an important resource for Catholics worldwide.

Still, given the cultural diversity of Catholicism, there are many potential flash points as the Synod on Synodality moves forward: poverty, adapting to local culture, sexuality and gender, church governance and the continuing sexual abuse crisis – just to name a few.

This has left some commentators wondering if anything meaningful can be discussed or achieved. In my view, whether Synod conversations turn into controversies will ultimately depend on how Catholics see themselves as part of a church that is truly global.

Complete Article HERE!