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29 Jul, 2021 15:36

Priest gagged for saying Canada residential-school victims lied about abuse for ‘extra money’ & joke about SHOOTING church vandals

Priest gagged for saying Canada residential-school victims lied about abuse for ‘extra money’ & joke about SHOOTING church vandals

A Catholic priest has been barred from speaking publicly by a Canadian archdiocese, after accusing residential-school survivors of lying about sexual abuse to get more money, and of speaking about wanting to shoot church vandals.

The inflammatory statements, made over a number of weeks by Father Rhéal Forest at St. Emile Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg, were even shared on the church’s Facebook page, but have since been taken down.

During a mass on July 10, Forest said the survivors lied about being sexually abused in a ploy to receive more money in the settlement process with the federal government. He blamed “evil” media for raking up the “fake news” issue of abuse in residential schools.

“If they wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes – lie that they were abused sexually and another $50,000,” he said, adding: “It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie.”

In the same sermon, he said that most of the indigenous people he knew from spending 22 years working “up north” had good experiences at residential schools. He noted that there may have been some instances of abuse like “in any institution” but said this was not at the hands of the priests and nuns, but “lay workers.”

Then, at a mass on July 18, Forest spoke of having “thoughts of anger” as he passed by a local church that had been vandalized with the words “Save the children”. This has been a phrase used by indigenous groups during protests relating to residential schools.

“If I had a shotgun at night and I’d see them, I’d go, ‘Boom!’ just to scare them and if they don’t run away, I’ll shoot them,” Forest said and laughed.

However, he quickly backtracked and said “this would not help.”

“It’s bad to do that. I’d go have a chat with them,” said Forest, who was temporarily placed at the church while the regular pastor was on vacation.

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Daniel Bahuaud, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, told CBC news that Archbishop Albert LeGatt had “completely disavow(ed)” Forest’s comments and banned him from public speaking.

“We very much regret the pain they may have caused to many people, not least of course indigenous people and, more specifically, survivors of the residential school system,” said Bahuaud, who added that Archbishop LeGatt would decide if any further punishment was necessary.

In recent months, several churches across the country have been targeted in arson and vandalism attacks, as public anger grew following the discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at former residential school sites.

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