2010-04-18

Bishop Windle about Rev. Bernard Prince

The following letter (discussing the cover-up strategy for a case of sexual abuse in Canada) has recently appeared. I don't need to discuss it here, but since the PDF is only scanned, it does not contain a text stream and is therefore not searchable. I therefore OCRd it (using tesseract), fixed the most obvious OCR errors and dumped it here to help google find it.

A discussion by Michael Ruse is on HuffPo. The original PDF is here:
http://beta.images.theglobeandmail.com/archive/00579/Feb1993Windleletter_579544a.pdf

THE BISHOP'S HOUSE l
168 RENFREW STREET
REV. J.R. WINDLE D.D.         P.O. BOX 7             TELEPHONE (613) 732-3895
PEMBROKE. ONTARIO I
KBA 6XI


FAX (613) 732—1714

February 10, 1993
His Excellency,
Most Rev. Carlo Curis, D.D.
Apostolic Pro—Nuncio,
Apostolic Nunciature,
724 Manor Avenue,
OTTAWA, Canada
K A OE3

Your Excellency:

Re: Rev. Bernard A. Prince

Further to our telephone conversation of February lOth and
yor FAX transmission, I wish to confirm in writing the following
convictions and recommendations.

In conscience, and before God, I must inform Your Excellency
that I am adamantly opposed to Fr. Prince receiving any Papal
Honour or ever being promoted to the Episcopate.  The consequences
of such an action would be disastrous, not only for the Canadian
church but for the Holy See as well, given the climate which exists
in Canada at this time.  I can say without hesitation that all of
the Ontario Bishops and the President of the CCCB would support me
in this assessment.

As Your Excellency is well aware from the recent scandals in—
volving a Bishop, and a priest from Ottawa, the mere passage of time
does not ensure that charges will not surface in the future since
there is no statute of limitations for such inappropriate activity.

When Fr. Prince was first proposed for his present position
in Rome (on the recommendation of the now Archbishop F. Franck), I
explained to the then Archbishop José Sanchez (now Cardinal Sanchez),
in his capacity as Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangeliza—
tion of Peoples, that, while the charge against Fr. Prince was very
serious, I would not object to him being given another chance since
it would remove him from the Canadian scene.  (Archbishop Ambrozic
had already informed me that Fr. Prince was no longer welcome in the
Archdiocese of Toronto unless he underwent psychiatric treatment at
the Clarke Institute.)

I also took the precaution of informing the Bishops in whose
dioceses Fr. Prince had previously worked of what had been brought
to my attention and a copy of this information was forwarded to
the Nunciature.  ( A photocopy of this material is enclosed.)

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THE BISHOP'S HOUSE l
168 RENFREW STREET
REV. J.R. WINDLE D.D.         P.O. BOX 7             TELEPHONE (613) 732-3895
PEMBROKE. ONTARIO I
KBA 6XI


- 2 -


However, Your Excellency, the situation has become more
precarious since Fr. Prince's appointment to Rome. Recently it
has been brought to our attention that there was not one but four
or five—victims in all (all minors who talk freely among themselves
§ about their involvement with Fr. Prince), and that several lay
people of the WilnoeBarry's Bay area, as well as a number of priests
of the Deanery of Barry's Bay are aware of these unfortunate events.
It appears that two of the victims are first cousins.  Hence there
is some general knowledge of Fr. Prince's untoward conduct and any
papal recognition or promotion would surely result in animosity and
"admiratio", along with other possible ramifications.

A further compounding factor is that recently the original
victim came to see both Monsignor Barry, the Vicar General, and the
priest to whom he had first reported the incidents.  In his conver-
sation with Monsignor Barry he asked three questions:

(1) Are Father Prince's superiors in Rome aware of his V
past behaviour and activity?

(2) Is he receiving any counselling to correct this
abusive behaviour and tendency?

(3) Is he being properly supervised?

The reason for the latter question is that the victim learned through
his wife's friend that Fr. Prince was frequently travelling abroad
and had dined with a member of the Canadian Embassy in Thailand who
originated from this area. Hence the victim felt he was not being
properly supervised as he was travelling alone and extensively.

The original victim, and apparently one other, are currently
undergoing counselling (and have been for some time) to assist them
through the traumatic memories of their experiences (which were of
considerable duration — and not isolated, as we were led to believe),
and hence the question about Fr. Prince receiving counselling.  In
Canada, when a charge is laid, such counselling is mandatory by law.

The victim asked for Fr. Prince's address so that he could write
to him — on the advice of his counsellor — to inform him that he was
"no longer in his power".  This appears to be a necessary element of
any cure from the results of sexual abuse.

The victim assured Monsignor Barry that he would _not_ lay any
charges (although his counsellor strongly advised him to do so),
unless he learned that Fr. Prince was victimizing other individuals
and that appropriate steps were not being taken by his superiors to
obviate this possibility through counselling and supervision.

%%%%% page break %%%%%

THE BISHOP'S HOUSE l
168 RENFREW STREET
REV. J.R. WINDLE D.D.         P.O. BOX 7             TELEPHONE (613) 732-3895
PEMBROKE. ONTARIO I
KBA 6XI


- 3 -


Consequently, Your Excellency, the scenario which exists today
is considerably different from when I first spoke with Archbishop
Sanchez.  At that time we were under the impression that the incident
was isolated, in the distant past, and there was little or no danger
of any scandal ever emerging.

However, the knowledge and extent of Fr. Prince's previous
activity is now much more widespread among both the laity and the
clergy than previously existed.  Hence, were he to be honoured in
any way it could easily trigger a reaction among the victim(s), or
others who are aware of his previous conduct, and this would prove
extremely embarrassing both to the Holy See and to the Diocese of
Pembroke, not to mention the possibility of criminal charges being
laid and a civil lawsuit ensuing.

I wish to point out to Your Excellency that this information
is reaching us in bits and pieces, from various sources, including
sordid details, but we have no way of assessing the total accuracy
of these reports.  However, once a matter of this nature becomes
public it has a tendency to escalate, and, like the recent Ottawa
case, it might become worse as events unfold.

One redeeming factor is that it would appear that the victims
involved are of Polish descent and their respect for the priesthood
and the Church has made them refrain from making these allegations
public or laying a criminal charge against a priest.  Had this happened
elsewhere there would be every danger that charges would have been
laid long ago with all the resultant scandal.  Unfortunately one
priest, who was talking with one of the victims who partially revealed
Fr. Prince's activity while living with him in Ottawa, has been some-
what indiscreet in his comments about Fr. Prince, and has had to be
cautioned by the Vicar General in this respect.  The priest in question
it is also a good friend of the mother of one of the victims so he has
been able to glean additional information to confirm his suspicions
about Fr. Prince's activity and openly confronted the Vicar General
about his suspicions and knowledge.

I regret both the length and contents of this letter, Your
Excellency, but when there is so much at stake for the Church in
general and the diocese in particular, given the adverse climate
we are currently experiencing, any promotion for Fr. Prince, even
for a Papal Honour, but most especially for the Episcopate, would
have horrendous results and cause immeasurable harm.  All of the
E . Bishops of Ontario who are aware of this situation (and there are
several) would most certainly agree with my assessment in this regard.
They include: Archbishop Ambrozic, Archbishop Spence, Archbishop
Wilhelm, Archbishop Gervais, Bishop O'Mara, and Bishop Tonnos since
each of them was involved directly or indirectly with Fr. Prince.

%%%%% page break %%%%%

THE BISHOP'S HOUSE l
168 RENFREW STREET
REV. J.R. WINDLE D.D.         P.O. BOX 7             TELEPHONE (613) 732-3895
PEMBROKE. ONTARIO I
KBA 6XI


- 4 -


One final point. As noted above, the victim's counsellor has
been advocating that he lay a charge against Fr. Prince to enable
the victim (as he put it) "to get the monkey off his back" since
he still suffers from periods of depression and anxiety. His wife
knows the reason why.  The victim has resisted this counsel and
feels he can accomplish the same end by writing to Fr. Prince to
inform him that he is no longer under his control or power.

However, as previously mentioned, a promotion of any kind
would indicate to the victim that he is being further victimized
and hence we could anticipate that a charge would be laid and a
public trial would follow.  This has been the pattern which has
been followed in recent events of a similar nature and it is a
situation which we wish to avoid at all costs.

I hope that the above information will assist Your Excellency
in dealing with this difficult and delicate problem.

With respectful and prayerful good wishes, I remain, Your
Excellency,

Faithfully yours in Christ,
J. R. Windle
Bishop of Pembroke

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