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Papal ambassador declines Kamloops priest sex case involvement

Papal nuncio cited diplomatic immunity for not participating in ‘playboy’ priest trial
Rosemary Anderson. (via Jeremy Hainsworth/Glacier Media)

The Pope’s Ottawa representative has refused to participate in the case of a Kamloops priest suspended for alleged sexual offences, a BC Supreme Court judge heard Feb. 10.

The court has heard that Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese officials knew of the sexual activities of Father Erlindo “Lindo” Molon before a schoolteacher reported months of abuse at the man’s hands in 1977.

Rosemary Anderson alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim the sexual abuse at the hands of Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole in the claim.

Molon was two decades her senior.

Anderson testified in October she had sought help from Molon in dealing with grief after the 1976 death of her father. Molon began groping her in his office, she said.

She said as she was leaving Molon’s office, “he embraced me, then began fondling me. He shoved his ugly tongue in my mouth. I hated it. I prayed to God to stop it.”

Then, she said, Molon took her hand and led her into the adjoining bedroom, where they had intercourse.

Anderson testified earlier the sexual abuse happened “on an average, I’d say, two or three times a week.”

The case resumed this week after a four-month break.

Now, Anderson’s lawyer Sandra Kovacs wants to know what senior Canadian Catholic officers knew of the case.

But that’s not happening due to an international treaty called the Vienna Convention.

Kovacs filed an affidavit Jan. 14 from Dominican Order priest Thomas Doyle saying files on such cases would be stored by a papal nuncio, knowledge he gained from working at the Washington D.C. papal embassy.

“Accusations of child abuse by priests and bishops as well as members of religious communities of men and women were reported to the Vatican Embassy,” Doyle’s affidavit said.

Doyle said cases he has reviewed involved consistent destruction of documents.

Kovacs told Justice David Crossin that the papal nuncio in Ottawa had been served documents to participate in the case.

“They are refusing to participate, citing diplomatic immunity,” Kovacs told Crossin.

That’s despite the Vatican’s December announcement it would abolish the high secrecy applied to sexual-abuse accusations against clerics. The situation had been seen as shielding priests from secular authorities.

Anderson visits the bishop

Anderson reported the Molon situation to then-Kamloops-bishop Adam Exner, who later became archbishop of Winnipeg and Vancouver.

The court has heard Exner was aware of Molon’s sexual activities with parishioners but didn't want to suspend him due to a priest shortage.

Exner has called Molon “promiscuous” and “a playboy.”

But, with the Anderson case and more and more rumours reaching his ears, “this led me to a conclusion I had to do something about this man,” Exner said in a discovery transcript read in court Feb. 10.

Exner agreed the case had an element of scandal for the church and was an embarrassment. He agreed the church’s reputation was a primary concern.

Asked if he extended the offer of counselling to any other women affected by Molon, Exner said, “No, I don’t think I did. Perhaps I should have but I didn’t.”

After hearing Anderson’s tale, he suspended Molon from priestly duties. He said he had offered Molon help in dealing with his issues, but these offers fell on deaf ears.

Molon wound up preaching in other parishes, including those in a U.S. archdiocese notorious for sexual abuse cases.

He later worked for the Canadian Armed Forces.

Kovacs asked Exner in October if he had warned other church officials about Molon.

“What am I supposed to do? “ Exner asked. “Warn every church in Canada and beyond?”

The court has already heard the case is not about whether or not damages should be forthcoming but what those damages should be.

Exner also conceded in the stand he could have done more to help Anderson.

Glacier Media requested Molon’s military records from the Department of National Defence under federal access to information laws in February 2019 but has yet to receive any files.

Vancouver’s archdiocese in November said a review of files of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese has uncovered 36 cases, most involving minors. The names of Roman Catholic priests believed to have been involved in the sexual abuse of minors were being turned over to non-Catholic investigators.

Molon is reportedly in a home in Ontario, incapable of participating in the case.

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