PASTORAL LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE DIOCESE OF CORNER BROOK AND LABRADOR, JULY 2014

Dear People of the Diocese,

On Tuesday, July 8th, the Western Star ran an article on its front page entitled “Plea date set for sex charges against former priest”.  The article stated that “A former Roman Catholic priest … has a plea date set for Aug. 25 on sex charges.”, that “Bernard Buckle … faces three charges of sexual assault.”, and that the “ … RCMP would only say the charges … are “historical” and wouldn’t give any further details, including where the alleged offences occurred or the age of the complainants at the time.”.   These are very serious charges and cannot be ignored.  Conversely, these charges have not yet been read in court, nor has the defendant yet had a chance to respond to them.  We must therefore withhold our judgement relying on God and the justice of our Canadian legal system to bring to light the true facts of this case.

Father Buckle retired from full time pastoral ministry in September 2011.  Since that time he has lived in residence at the Cathedral rectory and, when his health has allowed, he has assisted local parishes with pastoral ministry.  Due to the seriousness of the charges now before the court, Father Buckle has agreed that, pending the outcome of the court proceedings, he will not participate in any public priestly ministry.

Asking that you join with me in praying for justice and healing for all involved in this present court case, I remain,

Yours in Christ,

+Peter Hundt

Bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador.