BET À DAY
LYON | The Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) announced Wednesday in Lyon (south-eastern France) that it was starting a procedure for the “dismissal” of one of its members, Father Joannes Rivoire, 92, accused of sexual assaults on young Inuit in Canada in the 1960s.
“We have begun a procedure of canonical dismissal, because Father Rivoire stubbornly refuses to obey our order and to appear in Canadian justice,” Father Gruber, provincial of the Oblates of France, told the press.
The announcement comes as part of the visit to France of a delegation of Inuit who came to support an extradition request filed in early August by Ottawa against the French-Canadian cleric.
Father Gruber had reserved the first of this announcement to this delegation that he met on Wednesday afternoon.
The Inuits' request was met with a refusal from the Ministry of Justice, which recalled on Tuesday that, in accordance with its constitutional tradition, “France does not extradite its nationals”.
Father Rivoire, who lives in a retirement home in Lyon, was the subject of a first arrest warrant between 1998 and 2017 for sexual assaults against three minors.
A new complaint was filed in September concerning a sexual assault that occurred approximately 47 years ago and a new arrest warrant was issued in August.
On Wednesday, a double meeting was organized at the headquarters of the congregation in Lyon: first with the management of the OMI then with Father Rivoire, who finally accepted the meeting after long negotiations.
At the end of the meeting, the Inuit representative Kilikvak Kabloona regretted that the person concerned had as before “completely denied all the allegations”.
“He refuses to go to Canada, citing problems of skin,” she lamented. Asked about this, Father Gruber refused to comment, stressing that he was “not a doctor”.
The delegation is notably composed of an alleged victim and two children of another presumed victim of the religious. The Inuit are to speak at a press conference scheduled for Thursday morning in Lyon.
So far the priest, who left Canada in 1993 after 33 years in the Canadian Far North, has never been worried.
On Tuesday, the Chancellery announced that “France stands ready to respond to any request for mutual legal assistance that Canada may make to it or, if necessary, to act within the framework of a denunciation of the facts which would be formulated to him, subject nevertheless to examining the possible prescription of the facts”.