Catholic Church needs to do some ‘soul searching’ after priest charged: grand chief

First Nations leaders are speaking out after the RCMP in Manitoba charged a Catholic Priest with sexual assault.

“When I think about what needs to happen now, I think that the Catholic Church for instance really needs to do some deep soul-searching and what are the changes that need to happen. Maybe the priests are not alone with children,” Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels told APTN News.

Arul Savari, 48, of Winnipeg,  Arul Savari, 48, is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, sexual exploitation of an eight-year old girl, luring a child and forcible confinement.

Media in Manitoba are reporting that Owen Oliver, chief of Little Grand Rapids First Nation located 265 km north of Winnipeg, wants the Catholic Church to leave.

Daniels said measures need to be taken to prevent this from happening again.

“It’s within the right of the community, and if the leader is saying that the church has no role here anymore, then I think that’s what needs to happen,” Daniels said.

Daniels said the Church has much to atone for and still hasn’t come through on its reconciliation promises.

“How are you dealing with reconciliation today? And how are you investing in that? You know, and so we have our concerns, as it relates to the Church, and it might be time to turn the page on that you know, for some of our communities,” he said.

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Mounties charge Catholic priest with sexual assault of 8-year-old girl

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick called on the Roman Catholic Church to apologize.

“The Church has always been slow to respond or accept that these horrific events still happen,” Merrick said in a release on Tuesday. “The Church needs to apologize and act swiftly in denouncing Arul Savari as a representative of the Roman Catholic Church and make whatever reparations necessary…”

The Archdiocese of St. Boniface said it is aware of Oliver’s comments. But in an email to APTN, a spokesperson said there would be no further comment.

“Archbishop LeGatt will not be available either at this time, as out of respect for the Little Grand Rapids Band Council and Chief, as well as the entire community, he prefers to have a direct dialogue with the Little Grand Rapids First Nation rather than through the media,” said Daniel Bahuaud, Communications Director for the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese said Savari had been suspended but is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Savari has also been forbidden to have anything to do with former parishioners and children.

The RCMP said additional youths had been identified as potential victims and its investigation continues.

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