In a different incident, during a major 1998 ice storm, Boucher spent a night smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol with an 18-year-old student from Mexico, who fled from the rectory without his shoes after the priest made a sexual advance.
In 2003, the priest had an abusive relationship with a 19-year-old. The priest was sent to psychological treatment, but no disciplinary action was taken.
In 2011, when Boucher was up for reappointment as a pastor, a senior Church official wrote a detailed summary of his failings, so as to stop the appointment. “The official left on extended sick leave and Boucher was reappointed,” said the report.
Boucher would later claim to be the victim of sexual abuse by a much younger priest, which resulted in a more thorough investigation in 2015 after he was discovered to be the perpetrator, not the victim. Then-Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd conducted the investigation, which concluded there were “at least two child victims.”
Capriolo’s recommendations include the creation of an external ombudsman role to investigate the conduct of priests at each stage of their career. Similarly, all complaints should be filed in one common register for the archdiocese. All clergy personnel files should be kept in one place, with “rigorous and systematic management” of the archdiocese’s secret archives.
The archdiocese should create “a clear and well-defined organizational chart of accountability with delegated authority” that is accompanied by the power to sanction. All problems of abusive behavior, not only sexual abuse of minors, should be immediately referred to an advisory committee, Capriolo advised.
Legal and psychological support should be provided to victims, and there should be an annual external audit of how the report’s recommendations are implemented.
Capriolo has agreed to co-chair an implementation committee with Archbishop Lepine, with other members to be announced. Implementation could finish by fall 2021.
“You have accomplished a difficult task, under difficult circumstances about a very difficult subject. We are indebted to you,” Lepine told Capriolo. “We welcome the conclusions of your report in humility and with a deep sense of regret, and we commit ourselves to act decisively to deter such situations from occurring again.”
Lepine said changes had already begun with the archdiocese’s Responsible Pastoral Ministry Policy. He said people need to approach the Catholic Church with confidence and safety.
“The goal is not to point fingers but to uncover the gaps and deficiencies in our structures and policies, so that we can make the necessary changes,” he said.
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The Montreal archdiocese released the Capriolo report on its website. In early 2021, a statistical audit of diocesan files dating back to 1940 will begin. It aims to compile allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.