Canada issues warrant for French priest accused of abusing Inuit children

3. Canada
President of the Canadian Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) national organization representing Inuit people, Natan Obed (left) and Inuit delegate Martha Greig speak during a press conference on March 28, 2022 in Rome. (Photo: AFP)
OTTAWA — Canadian police said Tuesday a new arrest warrant has been issued for a priest accused of sexually abusing Inuit children in the country’s far north decades ago before fleeing to France.اضافة اعلان

Renewed focus was placed on Johannes Rivoire, 93, this week when an Inuit delegation to the Vatican asked Pope Francis to personally intervene in the case, which has remained unresolved for nearly 30 years.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in an email to AFP that last September it received “a complaint of sexual assaults that occurred approximately 47 years ago,” involving a female victim.

The RCMP said the warrant for his arrest was issued last month.

Rivoire, a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, had spent three decades in Canada’s far north, before returning to France in 1993. He now lives in Lyon.

Canadian police had sought to arrest him in the 1990s on at least three other charges of sexual abuse in the Nunavut communities of Arviat, Rankin Inlet, and Naujaat.

But those charges, according to Canadian media, were eventually stayed when it became clear to prosecutors that France was unlikely to extradite him.

Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told a news conference Monday that he “raised the legacy of sexual abuse in the church and asked the pope if he would intervene directly” in the Rivoire case.

He said he asked the pontiff to press Rivoire to return to Canada to “stand trial for the harms he has done,” or face a trial in France.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Obed said, have invited him to discuss the case at a meeting at its office in Rome on Thursday.

The 32-member Indigenous, Inuit and Metis delegation was invited to meet with Pope Francis over the recent discoveries of more than 1,300 unmarked graves at Church-run schools in Canada attended by Indigenous children as part of a government policy of forced assimilation.

Some 150,000 Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit children were enrolled from the late 1800s to the 1990s in 139 of the residential schools across Canada, spending months or years isolated from their families, language and culture.

Many were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers, and thousands are believed to have died of disease, malnutrition, or neglect.

A truth and reconciliation commission concluded in 2015 the failed government policy amounted to “cultural genocide”.

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