Archbishop Penney’s passing should keep history of sex abuse scandal alive

Courtesy: CBC

Somehow it seems fitting that no picture accompanies the obituary of the former Archbishop of St. John’s at the Telegram website.

The Catholic church has wanted Alphonsus Penney to disappear ever since the first priest in the archdiocese was charged with sexually assaulting boys during his watch. That priest was Jim Hickey, and Alphonsus Penney knew Jim Hickey from the time Penney was an assistant priest at St. Joseph’s church on Quidi Vidi Road and Hickey was a member of the church choir.

Before the sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic church enjoyed immense power in Newfoundland and Labrador. Their hold on education was enshrined in the Articles of Confederation.

Father Jim Hickey went to jail. He and his fellow priests damaged a lot of lives, and when I learned of his death I thought it would be appropriate if he was buried on the grounds of Dorchester prison in New Brunswick where he had been incarcerated.

Instead, Jim Hickey is buried in a Catholic cemetery in Toronto, but far from the area reserved for priests.

Alphonsus Penney will probably do better.

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