Clergy sex abuse blogger decides to shut down ‘Sylvia’s site’

Sylvia MacEachern said she would no longer update the site or allow people to post comments because she feared it was “doing more harm than good”.

Content of the article

An Ottawa woman who devoutly cataloged Canada’s clergy sex abuse scandal for more than a decade has decided to shut down her encyclopedic blog known as Sylvia’s Site.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

In a recent messageSylvia MacEachern said she would no longer update the site or allow people to post comments because she feared it was “doing more harm than good”.

MacEachern, a practicing Catholic, said she was deeply pained to see “diocese after diocese” being forced to sell churches to settle victims’ claims.

“Countless good and decent Roman Catholics are suffering because a diocese has been prosecuted for the sins and crimes of rebellious and deviant priests who, in pursuing their own perverted passions, have betrayed the faithful entrusted to their care, their fellow priests , the Church and God. MacEachern wrote.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the sale of 13 Catholic churches in that province to pay for the settlement of damages claims of victims of sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage. St. John’s Orphanage was run by the Christian Brethren, an all-male religious order sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

MacEachern said she has not yet decided whether to remove Sylvia’s site from the Internet or keep any part of it as an archive.

The site has become an online gathering place for victims of clergy sexual abuse and an important database for victims seeking information about abusive priests in the Catholic Church.

It is also one of the few resources that offers insight into the scope of the clergy sex abuse scandal in Canada.

In the United States, the The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has identified 7,002 clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sexually assaulting minors between 1950 and 2018. In Australia, a royal commission identified 4,444 victims of child sexual abuse, based on Catholic Church data, between 1980 and 2015.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has not made this information available, but Sylvia’s site has served as a clearinghouse for information regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal in that country.

The website contains an alphabetical listing of clergy publicly accused of crimes. More than 350 names are listed.

MacEachern, a grandmother who lives in Fitzroy Harbour, said she would continue to pray for the healing and salvation of all victims of clergy abuse.

“I realize that many of you won’t understand why I’m taking this action or be angry,” MacEachern said in his blog post. “I never wanted to inflict more pain on any of you. I love you as a mother loves her children: yet it is precisely for this reason that I must take this step.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

A deeply conservative Catholic who once opposed adding AIDS education to the Catholic school curriculum, MacEachern started Sylvia’s site in 2010.

She documented clergy abuse, MacEachern said, to protect children by ensuring Catholic parishioners had the means to learn about suspected predators and to pressure church officials to they remove sex offenders from the priesthood.

MacEachern began writing about clergy sex abuse as editor of The Orator, a small publication aimed at Canadian Catholics. She blogged during the Cornwall Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry and was a regular visitor to the Ottawa courthouse following the cases of local priests accused of abuse.

She has contacted hundreds of victims of sexual assault from across the country over the past 12 years.

“You’ll have a grown man or woman who decides one day to Google the name of their abuser priest,” MacEachern told an interviewer. “Most of them can’t explain why. They go to the site and discover: “Gosh, he’s already been charged and convicted.” “My God, he is dead, but there have been several trials.” They suddenly realize, “I’m not the only one. ”

Late last year, MacEachern underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his left kidney. A recent scan found no signs of cancer, she said.

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Amanda J. Marsh