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Christianity Today: Christians Raping Christians- Then Christians Covering Up the Christian's Crimes

Thursday, April 17 2008 @ 04:33 AM CDT

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Church silent on rape case _ (Time to start Crucifying these Christians!)

Quebec woman, now 59, says Catholic priest assaulted her when she was 17


The Archdiocese of Quebec is refusing to accept responsibility for the actions of a priest accused of rape by a 59-year-old woman who is suing the church.

In the latest sexual-abuse scandal to hit the Catholic Church in the province, the archdiocese said in a terse statement yesterday that the priest had been "forbidden to conduct any pastoral ministry" while the case was before the courts.

That did not appease France Bédard, who was a 17-year-old maid at a parish presbytery at the time of the alleged crime.

"Rape is a criminal act. And those who hide criminal acts and increase the sufferings of the victims are also criminals," an angry Ms. Bédard said yesterday in response to Cardinal Marc Ouellet's refusal to comment on the case.

"Today the Catholic Church of Quebec once again responds in silence," she added.

The case arose as Pope Benedict XVI, on his way to Washington from Rome, acknowledged yesterday he was "deeply ashamed" of the numerous clergy sex-abuse scandals.

But his comments were little solace to Ms. Bédard, who said she has carried the humiliation of the alleged rape all her adult life.

The accused priest, Armand Therrien, died two months ago before the case could go to trial.

Ms. Bédard is suing the archdiocese for $325,000 in damages, accusing it of failing to take action against a member of its clergy after being told of the alleged rape.

In 1965, she was a maid in the village of St-Marc-des Carrières, 50 kilometres west of Quebec City. She had been working for only a few days when one evening the priest allegedly grabbed her and put his hand over her mouth. "If you scream the parish priest will know everything," he said, according to court documents filed last week.

Ms. Bédard pleaded with Father Therrien to stop, the documents say: "No, no, I don't want to. Stop. I'm 17 and I'm a virgin. I've never slept with a man."

"Well tonight is when you find out what a man is," the priest replied before he lifted her nightgown and raped her, the documents say.

A devout Catholic, the teenager felt ashamed for having lost her virginity and blamed herself for drawing the priest into committing such a grave sin. She said she was manipulated and a relationship developed after the alleged rape.

Then in the summer of 1966, Ms. Bédard became pregnant and, when she told Father Therrien, he suggested she have an abortion, the documents say. When she refused, he insisted she give the baby up for adoption. The loss of her son haunted her until she finally decided to look for him, finding him in 1996.

But it would take nearly another decade to find the courage to act against her alleged assailant. "Now I know what a disgusting criminal he really was," Ms. Bédard said in an interview yesterday.

In 2005, she contacted the archdiocese and demanded it take action against the priest. After two months of discussions with church officials, nothing happened, so she filed a complaint with police.

Father Therrien was charged in May of 2006 with rape and gross indecency. A court-ordered DNA test proved he was the father of Ms. Bédard's son.

"By showing themselves unworthy of their moral pretensions, they only add to the suffering of the victims of the sexual crimes committed by their clergy," she said of church officials. "They preach compassion, love and generosity, but act with cold, calculated indifference."


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