5 Nov 2010

Convicted Canadian pedophile priest dismissed from priesthood was personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II

The Vancouver Sun - Ottawa Citizen August 24, 2009

Jailed Ont. priest dismissed by Roman Catholic Church

OTTAWA — A Pembroke, Ont. priest convicted of molesting 13 young boys over a 20-year period has been booted from the Roman Catholic priesthood.

Convicted in January 2008 of sexual misconduct and now serving a four-year sentence in a federal penitentiary, Msgr. Bernard Prince, who had been a personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II, was dismissed from the clerical state and dispensed from all priestly obligations as of May 4, 2009.

Pope Benedict XVI issued the decree through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a 23-member body dedicated to promoting and safeguarding Catholic faith and doctrine.

The Diocese of Pembroke issued a statement clarifying Prince's status on Monday.

The assaults against the boys were carried out between 1964 and 1984.

Most of the assaults occurred in the Killaloe, Ont., area - about 170 kilometres west of Ottawa.

A bench warrant was issued for Prince, who had been living near Rome, in October 2005 and he was arrested in February 2006 after returning to Canada from Italy.

He was ordained in 1963. His career included posts at the Vatican as the secretary-general of the pontifical work for the propagation of faith until his retirement more than four years ago.

At his sentencing hearing in January 2008, in handing down her sentence, Justice Julianne Parfett said Prince held a privileged position of trust in the community and among the families of his victims, who liked and respected him.

Parfett scolded Prince not only for destroying his victims' lives, but also their faith in God and the church.

Court heard many of Prince's victims came from poor families who were devoutly Catholic.

"It is that deep breach of trust that underpins the sentence you will receive today," said Parfett. "It was a trust you abused in the most fundamental manner."

Prince apologized to his victims for his "legal and moral" wrongdoing after being found guilty of one charge of indecent assault and pleading guilty to 12 more charges of indecent and sexual assault.

"I wish to sincerely apologize to everyone concerned for the harm that I have caused, directly or indirectly," he said.

In addition to the four-year prison sentence, Prince must submit a DNA sample to the national databank and be listed on the sex-offender registry for the next 20 years. He is also banned for life from visiting parks, swimming pools or other areas where children younger than age 14 may gather.

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