A Roman Catholic priest has come forward and said his attempts to speak about sexual abuse in the church led to his firing from Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal, Canada.
The priest, Rev. Andre Samson, first spoke about the church’s unfortunate history two years ago after Congregation of the Holy Cross issued an apology and paid $18 million to victims of sexual abuse.
Samson, a former military chaplain, was interrupted by his colleagues at lunch one day when he began telling them the story of an 18-year-old who had confessed to him that he was psychologically tormented after being abused by a Catholic priest when he was younger.
“The community superior became enraged,” Samson said. “He said, ‘Don’t talk about this here. It can’t be. We don’t talk about this here.’ ”
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Later that day, Samson says the community superior forbid him from eating lunch in the dining hall. About one month ago, he went to a different superior and asked for help in overturning his expulsion from the dining hall. The superior declined to help him.
Last week, Samson was fired. He says the officially listed reasons for his firing were all minor – like failing to wear his collar correctly. Samson maintains that the real reason for his firing is his shunned discussion about sexual abuse in the church.
“I find this difficult because as priests we give our lives to the church,” he said. “And it’s sad how we can be betrayed by this church.”
Samson took his story to the press in order to raise public awareness about the silencing he received in the church.
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“I told myself that if I don’t talk, who will? No one can really talk because they are too vulnerable.”
Samson’s story is being publicized as the Catholic Church tries to clean up its tarnished image regarding sexual abuse. Pope Francis recently instructed Vatican officials overseeing abuse cases to “act decisively” to protect children.